David Kahn holds a Ph.D. in history from Oxford University. He worked for thirty years as a journalist in New York and taught courses on intelligence at Yale and Columbia. In 2002, he was scholar-in-residence at the National Security Agency in Washington, D.C. His massive and exhaustive history of cryptology, The Codebreakers (1967), never out of print since its publication, is still considered the standard work on the subject.
Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boat Codes 1939-1943 (Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series)by David Kahn
Seizing the Enigma tells the story of one of the great dramas of World War II. A multinational corps of cryptologists struggled to break the German U-boat codes that were helping Nazi submarine wolfpacks tear at the lifeline between America and Britain. But these codebreakers realized that German messages could not be read without obtaining the encryption keys from the ships that held them. Several daring captures at sea of critical documents and encryption machines by the Royal Navy finally led to mastering the U-boats codes.
David Kahn—author of The Codebreakers, the most comprehensive history of codes ever written—begins his narrative with the creation of the Enigma machine in 1918 and its refinements during the two decades leading up to World War II. He introduces readers to the key figures on both sides of the battle: Arthur Scherbius, who gave the Germans a boost in the race between codemaker and codebreaker; Polish mathematician Marian Rejewski, who was able to reconstruct the Enigma keys—a crucial piece of the puzzle; and the odd assortment of scientists, chess champions, and linguists assembled by the British government at Bletchley Park—chief among them Alan Turing, who spearheaded the effort to crack the code.
Ultimately, however, it was as much bold action at sea as codebreaking in backrooms that broke Enigma and won the Battle of the Atlantic. Since its original publication in 1991, Seizing the Enigma has remained a vital secondary source of information about Enigma and the art of codebreaking.
Praise for Seizing the Enigma and its author
“Kahn, a noted historian of codebreaking, provides a specialized part of the [decryption] story not previously detailed. He underscores the strategic importance of submarine warfare in the Atlantic, giving a balanced account of the ultimate importance of codebreaking in that arena. High drama at sea, seizing the German codebooks and equipment, and analytical genius ashore were essential. Kahn describes both of these matching efforts expertly.”
—George H. Siehl, Library of Congress
“David Kahn is undoubtedly the world’s most respected historian of cryptography.”
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