British Intelligence in the Second World War: Vol. II; The Hut Six Story: Breaking the Enigma Codes

In This Review

British Intelligence in the Second World War: Vol. II

By F. H. Hinsley with E. E. Thomas, C. F. G. Ramsom, and R. C.
HMSO, 1981
850 pp.

The Hut Six Story: Breaking the Enigma Codes

By Gordon Welchman
McGraw-Hill, 1982
326 pp. $12.95

Professor Hinsley of Cambridge and his colleagues (all veterans in separate areas of intelligence) cover the crucial years from mid-1941 to mid-1943 with the same thoroughness and balance that marked their first volume on the earlier years of trial and error. This middle period was one of almost unbroken successes and striking contributions to strategy and operations alike-the major exception being the inability to read the U-Boat Enigma during 1942. The eventual recapture of that cipher is the basis for a fascinating Appendix; for the rest, the volume touches only generally on how the breaking of German and Italian ciphers was accomplished. Welchman, a central figure in the original Enigma breaking, tells a more personal story-engrossing to puzzle-solvers, perhaps hard going for the lay reader-of the extraordinary ingenuity that enabled the British to get on top of most Enigma traffic even before they had the aid of early computer technology. Now an American, the author goes on to spell out the lessons of his experience for contemporary problems in protecting military and other communications.

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