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The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies

The Woman Who Smashed Codes A True Story of Love Spies and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America s Enemies Joining the ranks of Hidden Figures and In the Garden of Beasts the incredible true story of the greatest codebreaking duo that ever lived an American woman and her husband who invented the modern s

  • Title: The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies
  • Author: Jason Fagone
  • ISBN: 9780062430489
  • Page: 200
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Joining the ranks of Hidden Figures and In the Garden of Beasts, the incredible 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, solving puzzles that unmasked Nazi spies and helped win World War IIIn 1912, at the height of WoJoining the ranks of Hidden Figures and In the Garden of Beasts, the incredible 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, solving puzzles that unmasked Nazi spies and helped win World War IIIn 1912, at the height of World War I, brilliant Shakespeare expert Elizebeth Smith went to work for an eccentric tycoon on his estate outside Chicago The tycoon had close ties to the U.S government, and he soon asked Elizebeth to apply her language skills to an exciting new venture code breaking There she met the man who would become her husband, groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman Though she and Friedman are in many ways the Adam and Eve of the NSA, Elizebeth s story, incredibly, has never been toldIn The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, who played an integral role in our nation s history for forty years After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States As World War II raged, Elizabeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler s Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies Meanwhile, inside an Army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life.Fagone unveils America s code breaking history through the prism of Smith s life, bringing into focus the unforgettable events and colorful personalities that would help shape modern intelligence Blending the lively pace and compelling detail that are the hallmarks of Erik Larson s bestsellers with the atmosphere and intensity of The Imitation Game, The Woman Who Smashed Codes is page turning popular history at its finest.

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      Posted by:Jason Fagone
      Published :2018-04-27T14:23:51+00:00

    One thought on “The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies

    1. Charlene on said:

      Possibly one of the best books I have ever read. Even better than Hidden Figures. Thank you Jason Fagone for bringing Elizebeth Friedman into my life. When I first picked up this title, I thought maybe Fagone found a woman who was impressive, but not necessarily one of the most amazing women to ever live, to make the subject of his new book. It seemed possible that perhaps he was overselling her accomplishments and underselling the recognition she received in the history books, all in an effort [...]

    2. Jean Poulos on said:

      I recently read “Code Girls” by Liza Mundy. This book “The Woman Who Smashed Codes” makes a nice addition or compliment to the storyline. Elizabeth Smith Friedman is the subject of this book. Mundy also mentioned Elizabeth’s husband, William F. Friedman, and deemed them to be an important team of cryptologists. William F. Friedman was famous in World War Two for breaking Purple, the Japanese cipher machine.Elizabeth Smith was a college educated teacher who was recruited by George Fabya [...]

    3. Patrick Brown on said:

      This was fantastic, and I'm not surprised. Fagone is a great writer (check out his previous book Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, Automotive Daring, and the Race to Revive America), and here he has great subject matter to work with. This book tells the story of Elizabeth Friedman, a pioneer in the field of cryptanalysis (that's codebreaking to us civilians), and one of the great unsung heroes of the 20th Century. Friedman's story has all the stuff you want in a great history -- wingbat theo [...]

    4. Ollivier on said:

      Anyone interested in the History of cryptography knows William F. Friedman, known as the man who broke Purple the Japanese cipher machine and many things. But who did know that his wife, née Elizebeth Smith, was his equal in cryptographic skills? She created a Coast Guard cryptographic team, broke an Enigma without any help from Bletchley Park, helped expose many Prohibition-era gangs and Nazi spy networks in South America during WWII and worked in tandem with William during WWI. She is as much [...]

    5. Rick on said:

      Immediately added to my favorites shelf. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.The Woman Who Smashed Codes will be compared with Hidden Figures, and that's fair, to a point. Both books have at their core a story of remarkable scientific/mathematic achievement, overlooked because of gender, largely forgotten (until now) as others took credit. But it is so much more, so rich in its account of not only an extraordinary woman, but the time in which she lived, two World Wars and her central role [...]

    6. L F on said:

      Frequently slow, but the topic of a woman’s skills in solving mysteries involving codes or cryptic messages is fascinating.

    7. Marlene on said:

      Originally published at Reading RealityOnce upon a time in the West, a wealthy and charismatic man whisked a young woman off to a luxurious life on his expansive estate.And even though that sentence is true, this is not that kind of story. Although it is a love story. And a war story. And a spy story.The man was George Fabyan, a wealthy businessman who had created a kind of scientific and technical utopia on his estate at Riverbank, outside of Geneva Illinois. The town of Geneva still exists, an [...]

    8. Mal Warwick on said:

      When Richard Nixon asked Chou En-Lai in 1972 about the impact of the French Revolution, the Chinese Premier famously said, "It's too early to tell." That terse response is generally understood to illustrate the Chinese ability to take the long view of history. But it might be more accurate to regard it as reflecting the constraints on those who write history. Historians can only work with available records: there is no history without documentary evidence. And sometimes decades, even centuries [...]

    9. Sue on said:

      The Word Smith.Elizebeth (with three ‘e’s) Smith became one of the most renowned codebreakers in history by a quirk of serendipitous fate. As a young woman brought up in a Quaker household, she wished to extend her horizons and at the age of 23 she went to Chicago in search of work. The quest was unsuccessful – but on the last day of her trip, on a whim, Elizebeth decided to visit the Newberry Library where a rare copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio was on display. The librarian noted the [...]

    10. Joyce on said:

      This is one of a number of interesting titles that have come out this year, all celebrating women in unusual roles who made important contributions but were overlooked in their male dominated fields. For fans of spy fiction with codes and codebreaking, this is a particularly interesting one. It chronicles the life of Elizabeth Smith Friedman, a Shakespeare scholar who worked for the eccentric George Fabyan (known to those of us in the Chicago area) but made her name, along with that of her husba [...]

    11. Katelyn on said:

      I loved learning about Elizebeth Smith Friedman and her foundational work with cryptoanalysis in the US before and during WWII. This was a great previously hidden history of a woman in a unique position for her time. Fagone cleverly comes up with great descriptions of Elizebeth's code breaking. She smashes, tears apart, etc codes. He keeps the description fresh despite writing about her deciphering many times.Overall I enjoyed this book but found it a little overlong. Despite it feeling a little [...]

    12. Vicki on said:

      There is so much to think about in this book. Cryptography, women in the workforce, the start of the NSA, World War 1, World War 2, privacy, work, marriage, partnership, humanity, what it means to leave behind a legacy, the dignity of intellectual work, motherhood - and so, so much more. It's a dense read, but today, as we grapple with what it means to be human and to entrust our privacy to machines, and in an era of intense debate about the role of women in technology, it's an important read th [...]

    13. Tina Othberg on said:

      This book had the potential to be awesome (looking at other reviews!). However, the writing style of this journalist-turned-author comes off like a recitation of facts. Elizebeth is a fascinating woman that history ignored, her accomplishments and life man-splained away. As much as I appreciated learning about this dynamic figure, I found the writing dry and bogged down with too much detail.

    14. Judy Lesley on said:

      My oh my, what an amazing story this book has to tell. Puzzle solving is something I find myself doing on a small scale on a daily basis so this revelation of the work in cryptanalysis by Elizebeth Smith Friedman was positively fascinating. Thanks to the passage of time documents which tell this story have now been declassified and it is possible to learn the debt we owe to Elizebeth Friedman for her work with the coast guard and their solution of the Enigma code and William Friedman, her husban [...]

    15. Helen on said:

      I loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories of unsung heroes finally getting their due. This is the fascinating story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, who with her husband, William Friedman, was pioneer cryptologist.She learned cryptology when an eccentric millionaire hired her to help with a project trying to prove Francis Bacon wrote William Shakespeare's plays. That meant when World War I came around, she was among the few people who knew anything about decoding message [...]

    16. Bonny on said:

      I would bet that only a few people know about cryptography, and fewer still are familiar with the names and work of those who developed the science, like Turing, Shannon, and Friedman. Even if you have heard of William Friedman as one of the founders of the National Security Agency, you most likely have never heard of his wife Elizebeth and her work. Thanks to Jason Fagone, we can finally read her fascinating story in The Woman Who Smashed Codes. She was first hired by eccentric George Fabyan to [...]

    17. writegeist on said:

      In high school, I was a big WWII history fan, normally on the European and African theaters (Battle of the Bulge, Afrika Corps). I thought I knew a lot about what was going on Well, I didn't. Not by a long-shot. Fagone's book reveals yet another level to all the actions, both military and civilian, behind the scenes of WWI, Prohibition, and WWII. The Friedman's almost single-handedly created the field of cryptoanalysis (with nods, of course, to the work of Alan Turing and his associates), helpin [...]

    18. Feisty Harriet on said:

      Cryptology, the study and science of code breaking, got it's start in the US (and Europe) by a husband-wife team who were GENIUSES at making and breaking codes. However, it was Elizabeth and not her husband who truly did the brunt of code-breaking to take down enormous Nazi spy rings during WWII. Elizabeth and William (Billy) started working for the government solving codes during WWI, but it wasn't until after the war that Elizabeth came into her own, creating the first code-breaking unit with [...]

    19. Correen on said:

      A story that begs to be told, Elizabeth Friedman was a strong and adaptable woman whose story has been hidden far to long. She was a major actor in the Allied win in WWII. We are much aware of British code breaking but little aware of the work done in the U.S. especially of this unsung hero. Elizabeth and her husband worked together for many years and then in separate projects. He became known to other code breakers but Elizabeth was neither paid well or adequately recognized. For those who knew [...]

    20. Carolyn Porter on said:

      The best book that I read in 2017! I liked it so much — and felt it was such an important, inspiring story — that I bought additional copies to give as Christmas gifts.

    21. Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard on said:

      How crap! How did I never learn ANY of this in school?! So freaking interesting and such an enjoyable read!

    22. Ticklish Owl on said:

      You might also enjoy:✱ Code Girls: Women Code Breakers of World War II✱ The Wolves at the Door✱ A Life in Secrets✱ Between Silk and Cyanide✱ The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy✱ Codebreakers✱ Hidden Figures✱ Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

    23. Ann on said:

      I enjoyed this book about Elizabeth Smith, later Friedman, who played an important role in the development of cryptanalysis in the USA. As a young college-educated woman in the 1910s, there were not that many careers open to her apart from teaching. So when the wealthy George Fabyan offered her a job as assistant to his protegee Mrs. Gallup, who claimed to have found a secret code in the Shakespeare folios that proved that the plays were actually written by another man, she jumped at the offer. [...]

    24. Jennifer Horne on said:

      A Story of an Incredibly Real Woman Makes History Come to LifeBy Jennifer Horne on December 16, 2017Format: AudioThe Woman Who Smashed Codes reads like a spy novel laced with an epic love story. The codebreaking work of Elizebeth Smith Friedman was fascinating to read about, but what made me want to keep going in the book was the desire to learn more about the incredibly strong relationship between Elizebeth and her codebreaking pioneer husband William Friedman. Elizebeth was indeed a strong wom [...]

    25. Nann on said:

      I read Fagone's book just after reading Liza Mundy's Code Girls. The topics are similar but different enough to make them both worth reading. Elizebeth Smith (yes, ElizEbeth) was one of the preeminent cryptanalysts in the U.S. in WWI, WWII, and in between. The other was her husband William Friedman. They met at Riverbank, the country estate of the wealthy and idiosyncratic Col. Robert Fabyan, when she was hired for a project that attempted to prove that Francis Bacon wrote the plays attributed t [...]

    26. Kim on said:

      The amazing true story of a woman who upon graduating college in 1915 went to Chicago with the hope of finding a job, wanting something different and not boring. Not finding one, she decided to return home, but on her last day in Chicago she stopped at the Newberry library to see Shakespeare's First Folio. Through a conversation with the librarian on staff, she ended up being whisked away into a new exciting world with a new job in cryptanalysis. Elizebeth ended up becoming one of our country's [...]

    27. Sherry Sharpnack on said:

      “The Woman Who Smashed Codes” is about Elizebeth Smith Friedman, the woman who founded modern cryptanalysis, along w/ her husband William, who has received all the credit and fame for it. Mrs. Friedman also performed counterespionage, helping to destroy Nazi spy rings in South America during WWII. Parts of the book got highly technical; I had some trouble in picturing how the Kryha and Enigma machines that she and her husband broke were set up; they not only broke the machines’ codes, but [...]

    28. Jeannie on said:

      Fascinating and insightful story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman and her husband William Friedman who developed strategies to solve codes and ciphers for the United States in World War I and beyond. The personal and the technical are deftly intertwined. Fagone has a very poetic style. Elizebeth Smith Friedman's story full of intrigues is not only with foreign governments, spies, and criminals, but also with machinations of internal governmental rivalries between different agencies. I was fascinated [...]

    29. Debbie on said:

      This is a fascinating look at the life of Elizebeth Smith Friedman and her husband William and their work as pioneers in the field of cryptology during the 20th century. This book was well researched and very compelling to read. Much of Elizebeth's work was credited to others and most of it was highly classified, as a result she was never recognized for her life's work. It's important that we read about our unsung heroes and the lessons they leave for us.

    30. Florence on said:

      The author has rendered a masterful story of the remarkable, talented Elizabeth Smith Friedman. She deciphered and broke the codes of rum runners during the Prohibition days, broke codes of the enemy in WWI and particularly deciphered and broke the sophisticated codes in the "silent war" against the Nazi spies in South America during WWII - truly a fascinating read.

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