Bletchley Park was where one of the war’s most famous - and crucial - achievements was made: the cracking of Germany’s “Enigma” code in which its most important military communications were couched. This country house in the Buckinghamshire countryside was home to Britain’s most brilliant mathematical brains, like Alan Turing, and the scene of immense advances in technology - indeed, the birth of modern computing. The military codes deciphered there were instrumental in turning both the Battle of the Atlantic and the war in North Africa. Plenty has been written about the boffins, and the code breaking, fictional and non-fiction.
Sinclair McKay’s book is the first history for the general listener of life at Bletchley Park, and an amazing compendium of memories from people now in their 80s - of skating on the frozen lake in the grounds, of a youthful Roy Jenkins, useless at code breaking, of the hijinks at nearby accommodation hostels - and of the implacable secrecy that meant girlfriend and boyfriend working in adjacent huts knew nothing about each other’s work.
©2012 Sinclair Mckay (P)2012 Audible Ltd
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Plodding style detracts totally from a Fascinating subject
Needed rewriting, not a change of narrator
The endless repeats of facts about people that had already been disclosed
Read like a degree thesis or a serialisation stuck together without editing
"They've kept this secret for so long!"
Yes, I vaguely knew what they did there, and perhaps even a bit about how they did it, but what astonished me were the names of the politicians involved, and how they filtered the decoded messages, and even how people I knew at university and my next-door neighbour were involved at various levels. Every chapter showed me a new aspect and how the politicians acted very strongly (perhaps wisely, or not) on the information. What it did not cover were the technicalities of Enigma which may have gone over my head, or personalities such as Turing and his input. It's one of those books that stay with you so you can chat over dinners and score points about what you know. Absolutely fascinating. Definitely not a light read but not heavy going at all. I could pick it up and start again after a long break.
"An important study, disappointingly told"
Utterly brilliant subject matter revealed by no doubt excellent research, but in my view worthy of a more analytical, less gossipy style. Narrator is OK, but often gets the emphasis wrong.
Enjoyable story of life at Bletchley Park. This tells the story of the people who worked there. How could so many people work in one location and keep it a secret.
One of the most interesting.
Sinclair McKay restricts himself to the human experience of Bletchley Park - in the knowledge that he would have sold very few copies of his book had he tried to explain the maths behind it all.
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