The true story of the greatest codebreaking duo that ever lived, an American woman and her husband who invented the modern science of cryptology together and used it to confront the evils of their time.
Subtitled The True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies, Jason Fagone's book delivers on that promise, bringing one woman's deliberately erased accomplishments back into the limelight … After Elizebeth's surreal beginnings, Fagone keeps the focus largely on her work, and on a marriage strained by government pressure — a codebreaking team forbidden to talk to each other about what they were doing. ‘A competent codebreaker was suddenly a person of the highest military value,’ Fagone writes. Their skill made them threats; they were treated accordingly, and this intelligence-gathering operation begins to feel more John Le Carré than James Bond … Bursting with details in everything from dinner parties to spy rings, Fagone's book offers the story of a fascinating woman in perilous times, and asks some uneasy questions about the present.
...a fascinating combination of love story, spy novel and war tale, all of it true … Fagone tells Elizebeth’s tale briskly over 340-or-so pages, seamlessly mixing her efforts with little side stories showing the fruit her labor bore … The Woman Who Smashed Codes is short but rarely simple, as the subject matter may require: There’s nothing easy about breaking Enigmas, the legendary German device. But it’s a story that anyone with interest in the time period has to read, a key piece of the puzzle about America’s war effort.
Fagone’s book details Elizebeth’s long and rollicking career — one where she lays the foundation of U.S. codebreaking and the intelligence community as we know it — and it reads like some wild cross between a fairy tale and a gripping detective thriller … Fagone is a capable guide to this kaleidoscope of historical material, as comfortable with vivid character description as he is with elegant explanations of technical cipher-untangling … The Woman Who Smashed Codes is winning for so many reasons: Readers will delight in the sheer staggering amount of historical detail Fagone packs into the book; they’ll vicariously feel Elizebeth’s cerebral thrill at finally cracking a code; they’ll cheer her remarkable work as a pioneering codebreaker who happens to be a woman.