“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.
Jason Fagone is a journalist who covers science, technology, and culture. Named one of the “Ten Young Writers on the Rise” by the Columbia Journalism Review, he works at the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for GQ, Esquire, The Atlantic, the New York Times, Mother Jones, and Philadelphia magazine. Fagone is also the author of Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, the X Prize, and the Race to Revive America and Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream. He lives in San Francisco, California.
Table of Contents
Author's Note: Prying Eyes xi
Part I Riverbank 1
Chapter 1 Fabyan 3
Chapter 2 Unbelievable, Yet It Was There 21
Chapter 3 Bacon's Ghost 37
Chapter 4 He Who Fears Is Half Dead 63
Chapter 5 The Escape Plot 93
Part II Target Practice 117
Part III The Invisible War 175
Chapter 1 Gradmother Died 177
Chapter 2 Magic 209
Chapter 3 The Hauptsturmführer and the Funkmeister 223
Behind our most beloved hymn is a fascinating story spanning continents, cultures, and centuries. Inspired
by the way Amazing Grace continues to change and grow in popularity, acclaimed music writer Steve Turner embarks on a journey to trace the life ...
Bruce Feiler’s New York Times bestsellers Abraham, Walking the Bible, and Where God Was Born
brilliantly explored the roots of faith. With America’s Prophet, Feiler looks at Moses and the essential role the prophet has played in our nation’s history ...
The next in the bestselling series of psychological thrillers featuring Carson Ryder, the detective with
a unique perspective on serial killersSoon after witnessing the escape of violent psychopath Bobby Crayline from prison, Alabaman detective Carson Ryder takes a rare break ...
The long awaited return to Robert Low’s Oathsworn seriesIsland of Mann, 979AD. A monk lies
dying with a sworn secret he must pass onto Crowbone, the true heir to Norway’s throne, before he breathes his last. The monk’s words will ...
The second installment of the Markaum War series by Mel Odom takes these military sci-fi
books to the next level, perfect for readers of Jay Allan's Crimson Worlds novels.He's behind enemy lines. But those lines are shifting beneath his feet.In ...
A growing number of Americans want to tear down what it’s taken us 250 years
to build—and they’ll start by canceling our shared history, ideals, and culture.Traditional areas of civic agreement are vanishing. We can’t agree on what makes America ...
Three warm, witty and uplifting novels from best-selling author Julia Williams.Escape into The Summer Season
and meet widower Joe, struggling single mum Lauren and mysterious gardener Kezzie. Can these three very different people help each other overcome their own very ...
Acclaimed writer Margo Rabb’s Kissing in America is “a wonderful novel about friendship, love, travel,
life, hope, poetry, intelligence, and the inner lives of girls,” raves internationally bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love). In the two years since her ...