NPR Best Book of the Year
"Not all superheroes wear capes, and Elizebeth Smith Friedman should be the subject of a future Wonder Woman movie." --The New York Times
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 II.
In 1916, 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 told.
In 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, Elizebeth 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.--Forbes
The details of the mission rival the finest spy thriller, but what makes this story sing is the incredible cast of characters -- both heroes and rogues alike -- including:
- Moe Bergm, the major league catcher who abandoned the game for a career as a multilingual international spy; the strangest fellow to ever play professional baseball.
- Werner Heisenberg, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist credited as the discoverer of quantum mechanics; a key contributor to the Nazi's atomic bomb project and the primary target of the Alsos mission.
- Colonel Boris Pash, a high school science teacher and veteran of the Russian Revolution who fled the Soviet Union with a deep disdain for Communists and who later led the Alsos mission.
- Joe Kennedy Jr., the charismatic, thrill-seeking older brother of JFK whose need for adventure led him to volunteer for the most dangerous missions the Navy had to offer.
- Samuel Goudsmit, a washed-up physics prodigy who spent his life hunting Nazi scientists -- and his parents, who had been swept into a concentration camp -- across the globe.
- Ir ne and Frederic Joliot-Curie, a physics Nobel-Prize winning power couple who used their unassuming status as scientists to become active members of the resistance.
Thrust into the dark world of international espionage, these scientists and soldiers played a vital and largely untold role in turning back one of the darkest tides in human history.
The gripping account of the decade-long hunt for the world's most wanted man.
It was only a week before 9/11 that Peter Bergen turned in the manuscript of "Holy War, Inc.", the story of Osama bin Laden--whom Bergen had once interviewed in a mud hut in Afghanistan--and his declaration of war on America. The book became a "New York Times "bestseller and the essential portrait of the most formidable terrorist enterprise of our time. Now, in "Manhunt, " Bergen picks up the thread with this taut yet panoramic account of the pursuit and killing of bin Laden.
Here are riveting new details of bin Laden's flight after the crushing defeat of the Taliban to Tora Bora, where American forces came startlingly close to capturing him, and of the fugitive leader's attempts to find a secure hiding place. As the only journalist to gain access to bin Laden's Abbottabad compound before the Pakistani government demolished it, Bergen paints a vivid picture of bin Laden's grim, Spartan life in hiding and his struggle to maintain control of al-Qaeda even as American drones systematically picked off his key lieutenants.
Half a world away, CIA analysts haunted by the intelligence failures that led to 9/11 and the WMD fiasco pored over the tiniest of clues before homing in on the man they called "the Kuwaiti"--who led them to a peculiar building with twelve-foot-high walls and security cameras less than a mile from a Pakistani military academy. This was the courier who would unwittingly steer them to bin Laden, now a prisoner of his own making but still plotting to devastate the United States.
Bergen takes us inside the Situation Room, where President Obama considers the COAs (courses of action) presented by his war council and receives conflicting advice from his top advisors before deciding to risk the raid that would change history--and then inside the Joint Special Operations Command, whose "secret warriors," the SEALs, would execute Operation Neptune Spear. From the moment two Black Hawks take off from Afghanistan until bin Laden utters his last words, "Manhunt" reads like a thriller.
Based on exhaustive research and unprecedented access to White House officials, CIA analysts, Pakistani intelligence, and the military, this is the definitive account of ten years in pursuit of bin Laden and of the twilight of al-Qaeda.
"Excellent...This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down." -- The New York Times Book Review "A compelling biography of a masterful spy, and a reminder of what can be done with a few brave people -- and a little resistance." - NPR "A meticiulous history that reads like a thriller." - Ben Macintyre A never-before-told story of Virginia Hall, the American spy who changed the course of World War II, from the author of Clementine. In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: "She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her." The target in their sights was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite who talked her way into Special Operations Executive, the spy organization dubbed Winston Churchill's "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare." She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines and--despite her prosthetic leg--helped to light the flame of the French Resistance, revolutionizing secret warfare as we know it. Virginia established vast spy networks throughout France, called weapons and explosives down from the skies, and became a linchpin for the Resistance. Even as her face covered wanted posters and a bounty was placed on her head, Virginia refused order after order to evacuate. She finally escaped through a death-defying hike over the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown. But she plunged back in, adamant that she had more lives to save, and led a victorious guerilla campaign, liberating swathes of France from the Nazis after D-Day. Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall--an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spycraft, resistance, and personal triumph over shocking adversity. A Woman of No Importance is the breathtaking story of how one woman's fierce persistence helped win the war.
A uniquely comprehensive and rich account of the Soviet intelligence services, Jonathan Haslam's Near and Distant Neighbors charts the labyrinthine story of Soviet intelligence from the October Revolution to the end of the Cold War.
Previous histories have focused on the KGB, leaving military intelligence and the special service--which specialized in codes and ciphers--lurking in the shadows. Drawing on previously neglected Russian sources, Haslam reveals how both were in fact crucial to the survival of the Soviet state. This was especially true after Stalin's death in 1953, as the Cold War heated up and dedicated Communist agents the regime had relied upon--Klaus Fuchs, the Rosenbergs, Donald Maclean--were betrayed. In the wake of these failures, Khrushchev and his successors discarded ideological recruitment in favor of blackmail and bribery. The tactical turn was so successful that we can draw only one conclusion: the West ultimately triumphed despite, not because of, the espionage war.
In bringing to light the obscure inhabitants of an undercover intelligence world, Haslam offers a surprising and unprecedented portrayal of Soviet success that is not only fascinating but also essential to understanding Vladimir Putin's power today.
"Thrilling . . . What makes Operation Mincemeat so winning, in addition to Mr. Macintyre's meticulous research and the layers of his historcal understanding, is his elegant, jaunty, and very British high style."--Dwight Garner, New York Times SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE - NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES Near the end of World War II, two British naval officers came up with a brilliant and slightly mad scheme to mislead the Nazi armies about where the Allies would attack southern europe. To carry out the plan, they would have to rely on the most unlikely of secret agents: a dead man. Ben Macintyre's dazzling, critically acclaimed bestseller chronicles the extraordinary story of what happened after British officials planted this dead body--outfitted in a British military uniform with a briefcase containing false intelligence documents--in Nazi territory, and how this secret mission fooled Hitler into changing military positioning, paving the way for the Allies to overtake the Nazis.