In 1942, with a black-market chicken under his arm, Leo Marks left his father's famous bookshop, 84 Charing Cross Road, and went to war. He was twenty-two and a cryptopgraher of genius. In Between Silk and Cyanide, his critically acclaimed account of his time in SOE, Marks tells how he revolutionised the code-making techniques of the Allies, trained some of the most famous agents dropped into France including Violette Szabo and 'the White Rabbit', and why he wrote haunting verse including his 'The Life that I have' poem. He reveals for the first time the disastrous dimensions of the code war between SOE and the Germans in Holland; how the Germans were fooled into thinking a Secret Army was operating in the Fatherland itself, and how and why he broke General de Gaulle's secret code. Both thrilling and poignant, Marks's book is truly one of the last great Second World War memoirs.
In 1942, with a black-market chicken tucked under his arm by his mother, Leo Marks left his father's famous bookshop, 84 Charing Cross Road, and went off to fight the war. He was twenty-two. Soon recognized as a cryptographer of genius, he became head of communications at the Special Operations Executive (SOE), where he revolutionized the codemaking techniques of the Allies and trained some of the most famous agents dropped into occupied Europe. As a top codemaker, Marks had a unique perspective on one of the most fascinating and, until now, little-known aspects of the Second World War. This stunning memoir, often funny, always gripping and acutely sensitive to the human cost of each operation, provides a unique inside picture of the extraordinary SOE organization at work and reveals for the first time many unknown truths about the conduct of the war. SOE was created in July 1940 with a mandate from Winston Churchill to "set Europe ablaze." Its main function was to infiltrate agents into enemy-occupied territory to perform acts of sabotage and form secret armies in preparation for D-Day. Marks's ingenious codemaking innovation was to devise and implement a system of random numeric codes printed on silk. Camouflaged as handkerchiefs, underwear, or coat linings, these codes could be destroyed message by message, and therefore could not possibly be remembered by the agents, even under torture. Between Silk and Cyanide chronicles Marks's obsessive quest to improve the security of agents' codes and how this crusade led to his involvement in some of the war's most dramatic and secret operations. Among the astonishing revelations is his account of the code war between SOE and the Germans in Holland. He also reveals for the first time how SOE fooled the Germans into thinking that a secret army was operating in the Fatherland itself, and how and why he broke the code that General de Gaulle insisted be available only to the Free French. By the end of this incredible tale, truly one of the last great World War II memoirs, it is clear why General Eisenhower credited the SOE, particularly its communications department, with shortening the war by three months. From the difficulties of safeguarding the messages that led to the destruction of the atomic weapons plant at Rjukan in Norway to the surveillance of Hitler's long-range missile base at Peenemünde to the true extent of Nazi infiltration of Allied agents, Between Silk and Cyanide sheds light on one of the least-known but most dramatic aspects of the war. Writing with the narrative flair and vivid characterization of his famous screenplays, Marks gives free rein to his keen sense of the absurd and wry wit without ever losing touch with the very human side of the story. His close relationship with "the White Rabbit" and Violette Szabo -- two of the greatest British agents of the war -- and his accounts of the many others he dealt with result in a thrilling and poignant memoir that celebrates individual courage and endeavor, without losing sight of the human cost and horror of war.
In 1942, Leo Marks left his father's famous bookshop, 84 Charing Cross Road, and went off to fight the war. He was twenty-two. Soon recognized as a cryptographer of genius, he became head of communications at the Special Operations Executive (SOE), where he revolutionized the codemaking techniques of the Allies and trained some of the most famous agents dropped into occupied Europe, including "the White Rabbit" and Violette Szabo. As a top codemaker, Marks had a unique perspective on one of the most fascinating and, until now, little-known aspects of the Second World War. Writing with the narrative flair and vivid characterization of his famous screenplays, Marks gives free rein to his keen sense of the absurd and his wry wit, resulting in a thrilling and poignant memoir that celebrates individual courage and endeavor, without losing sight of the human cost and horror of war.
Transformation of War
Author: Martin Van Creveld
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
At a time when unprecedented change in international affairs is forcing governments, citizens, and armed forces everywhere to re-assess the question of whether military solutions to political problems are possible any longer, Martin van Creveld has written an audacious searching examination of the nature of war and of its radical transformation in our own time. For 200 years, military theory and strategy have been guided by the Clausewitzian assumption that war is rational - a reflection of national interest and an extension of politics by other means. However, van Creveld argues, the overwhelming pattern of conflict in the post-1945 world no longer yields fully to rational analysis. In fact, strategic planning based on such calculations is, and will continue to be, unrelated to current realities. Small-scale military eruptions around the globe have demonstrated new forms of warfare with a different cast of characters - guerilla armies, terrorists, and bandits - pursuing diverse goals by violent means with the most primitive to the most sophisticated weapons. Although these warriors and their tactics testify to the end of conventional war as we've known it, the public and the military in the developed world continue to contemplate organized violence as conflict between the super powers. At this moment, armed conflicts of the type van Creveld describes are occurring throughout the world. From Lebanon to Cambodia, from Sri Lanka and the Philippines to El Salvador, the Persian Gulf, and the strife-torn nations of Eastern Europe, violent confrontations confirm a new model of warfare in which tribal, ethnic, and religious factions do battle without high-tech weapons or state-supported armies and resources. This low-intensity conflict challenges existing distinctions between civilian and solder, individual crime and organized violence, terrorism and war. In the present global atmosphere, practices that for three centuries have been considered uncivilized, such as capturing civilians or even entire communities for ransom, have begun to reappear. Pursuing bold and provocative paths of inquiry, van Creveld posits the inadequacies of our most basic ideas as to who fights wars and why and broaches the inevitability of man's need to "play" at war. In turn brilliant and infuriating, this challenge to our thinking and planning current and future military encounters is one of the most important books on war we are likely to read in our lifetime.
The story of Churchill's personal weapons development department, staffed by ingenious boffins, who developed numerous innovative weapons that helped win the war.
Secret War Heroes
Author: Marcus Binney
Publisher: Hachette UK
Founded by Churchill, Special Operations Executive (SOE) was the forerunner of the SAS, and during WWII they sent many hundreds of specially-trained agents deep undercover in Nazi-occupied Europe. Here Marcus Binney explores the extraordinary stories and daring exploits of some of the male agents who made up these little-known war heroes, and who helped change the course of the twentieth century with their bravery and sacrifice. The author has undertaken ground-breaking research in previously classified Foreign Office files in order to write this book.
Author: Hervie Haufler
Publisher: Open Road Media
With exclusive interviews, a Signal Corps veteran tells the full story of how cryptography helped defeat the Axis powers, at Bletchley Park and beyond. For years, the story of the World War II codebreakers was kept a crucial state secret. Even Winston Churchill, himself a great advocate of Britain’s cryptologic program, purposefully minimized their achievements in his history books. Now, though, after decades have passed, the true scope of the British and American cryptographers’ role in the war has come to light. It was a role key to the Allied victory. From the Battle of Britain to the Pacific front to the panzer divisions in Africa, superior cryptography gave the Allies a decisive advantage over the Axis generals. Military intelligence made a significant difference in battle after battle. In Codebreakers’ Victory, veteran cryptographer Hervie Haufler takes readers behind the scenes in this fascinating underground world of ciphers and decoders. This broad view represents the first comprehensive account of codebreaking during World War II. Haufler pulls together years of research, exclusive access to top secret files, and personal interviews to craft a captivating must-read for anyone interested in the behind-the-front intellect and perseverance that went into beating the Nazis and Japan.
Shadows in the Fog
Author: Francis J Suttill
Publisher: The History Press
In May 1940, Francis Suttill was commissioned into the East Surrey regiment of the British Army. He was later recruited by the Special Operations Executive (SOE), and after being trained during the summer of 1942, Suttill was chosen to create a new resistance network in northern France, based in Paris, with the operational name Physician. His code name was Prosper, and his assumed identity was François Desprées. The circuit of agents grew fast until June 1943, when the Gestapo discovered letters, instructions, crystal sets, and addresses in a car, and false ID papers in an apartment. Over the next three months, more then 80 agents died or were killed, mostly in concentration camps. Major Suttill DSO would be killed in Sachsenhausen in May 1945. Rumors of betrayal by MI6, even of the involvement of Winston Churchill, have abounded ever since. For the first time, Major Suttill's son tells the whole story of the tragedy, basing his meticulous research on primary sources.
The Girls of Atomic City
Author: Denise Kiernan
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC C ITY AT THE HEIGHT OF WORLD WAR II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, consuming more electricity than New York City. But to most of the world, the town did not exist. Thousands of civilians—many of them young women from small towns across the South—were recruited to this secret city, enticed by solid wages and the promise of war-ending work. Kept very much in the dark, few would ever guess the true nature of the tasks they performed each day in the hulking factories in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. That is, until the end of the war—when Oak Ridge’s secret was revealed. Drawing on the voices of the women who lived it—women who are now in their eighties and nineties— The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of American history from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage. Combining the grand-scale human drama of The Worst Hard Time with the intimate biography and often troubling science of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Girls of Atomic City is a lasting and important addition to our country’s history.
Ever Yours, Florence Nightingale
Author: Florence Nightingale, Martha Vicinus, Bea Nergaard
Publisher: Harvard University Press
For many, Florence Nightingale is the most famous woman of her day, second only perhaps to Queen Victoria. Celebrated and beloved by the public and her friends, considered an irritant by politicians and bureaucrats, the great reformer remains a figure of considerable controversy. In this full 'life in letters' we see her at first hand. Martha Vicinus and Bea Nergaard weave together a narrative account and a selection of her letters in such a way as to create--in Nightingale's own words--a fascinating portrayal of the woman, her career, and her concerns.
Author: F. H. Hinsley
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
With many colourful anecdotes and vivid descriptions, this is the first authentic account of daily life at Government Communications Headquarters, Bletchley Park, the most successful intelligence agency in history. Described by Churchill as the 'secret weapon' that 'won the war', the men and women of Bletchley Park here combine to write their story in full. This book gives fascinating insights into recruitment and training, together with a full and accurate account of codes and ciphersand how they are broken.
At the end of World War II, the Cabinet Office commissioned an eminent academic, Professor William Mackenzie, to undertake a comprehensive secret history of Special Operations Executive. Given access to both personnel and the surviving wartime files, Mackenzie's report was a reference document to be used by intelligence agencies in a future conflict, its audience the very elite of Whitehall insiders. Now, this highly classified account has been made available. Never before have SOE's operations across the world been described in such detail and with total authority. Mackenzie's document explores numerous controversies and reveals dozens of previously undisclosed episodes from Britain's secret war against the Axis. Who were the agents parachuted in Germany? What became of schemes designed to protect Gibraltar from a Spanish invasion? When did SOE decide to collaborate with the NKVD and infiltrate Soviet spies into Eastern Europe? These and other wartime mysteries are packed into one of the most controversial documents of our time.
Author: Susan Ottaway
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
A beautiful young widow and mother of a small daughter, Violette Szabo undertook two secret missions to France in 1944 as an agent for the Special Operations Executive. Just after D-Day, a few days into her second mission, she was arrested following a gun battle and sent to Ravensbruck, the women's concentration camp near Berlin, where she was executed at the beginning of 1945. The first edition of this book, published in 2002, was written with the cooperation of some of Violette's family members - in particular her elder brother Roy and her daughter Tania - as well as several of her friends and two of the only three SOE agents to survive incarceration in Ravensbruck. The author was also given access to letters written about his daughter by Violette's father, Charles Bushell, which had never before been made public and remain in a private collection to this day. This updated edition contains more information, available following the release of documents in 2003, which poses questions about Violette's relationship with her family and highlights anomalies in the way the official version of Violette's story was told. 'Ottaway confirms that she is a meticulous researcher and first-rate historian.' Alliance Advocate 'This excellent biography presents a vivid portrait of Violette as an agent and as a person. Extensive research and interviews with people who knew and worked with her have enabled the author to set out the facts and re-examine Violette's remarkable life. This is a moving and gripping read which offers a valuable insight into the character of one of Britain's greatest heroines.' This England
Battle of Wits
Author: Stephen Budiansky
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
A million pages of new World War II codebreaking records have been released by the U.S. Army and Navy and the British government over the last five years. Now, Battle of Wits presents the history of the war that these documents reveal. From the Battle of Midway until the last German code was broken in January 1945, this is an astonishing epic of a war that was won not simply by brute strength but also by reading the enemy's intentions. The revelations of Stephen Budiansky's dramatic history include how Britain tried to manipulate the American codebreakers and monopolize German Enigma code communications; the first detailed published explanations of how the Japanese codes were broken; and how the American codebreaking machines worked to crack the Japanese, the German, and even the Russian diplomatic codes. This is the story of the Allied codebreakers puzzling through the most difficult codebreaking problems that ever existed. At the same time, the compelling narrative shows the crucial effect codebreaking had on the battle-fields by explaining the urgency of stopping the wolf pack U-boat attacks in the North Atlantic, the burning desire in the United States to turn the tide of the war after Pearl Harbor, the importance of halting Rommel's tanks in North Africa, and the necessity of ensuring that the Germans believed the Allies' audacious deception and cover plans for D-Day. Budiansky brings to life the unsung code-breaking heroes of this secret war: Joseph J. Rochefort, an intense and driven naval officer who ran the codebreaking operation in "The Dungeon", a dank basement at Pearl Harbor, that effectively won the Battle of Midway; Alan Turing, the eccentric father of the computerage, whose brilliant electromechanical calculators broke the German Enigma machine; and Ian Fleming, whose daredevil espionage schemes to recover codebooks resembled the plots of the 007 novels he later wrote. Among the villains, we meet the Nazi Admiral Donitz, who led the submarine wolf packs against Allied shipping in the North Atlantic with horrific casualty rates -- until the codebreakers stopped him. Budiansky, a Harvard-trained mathematician, demonstrates the mathematical insight and creativity of the cryptographers by showing step-by-step precisely how the codes were broken. This technology -- the flow of information, its encryption, and the computational methods of recovering it from the enemy -- had never before been so important to the outcome of a war. Informative diagrams, maps, appendices, and photographs show exactly how, why, and where the secret war was won. Unveiled for the first time, the complete story of codebreaking in World War II has now been told.