Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2. The Secret Listeners: How the Y Service Intercepted the Secret German Codes for Bletchley Park

By:  Sinclair McKay
Rated 5 stars
Audio Book

Copy of e-mail that I sent to a friend:

I just finished a book that is so much better than "The Enemy is Listening" that I just had to share with you about it.  It's on the same subject but is so much more comprehensive and therefore even more interesting as it covers the entire program from start to finish not just one person's perspective.  I would surely be wrapping it and getting ready to mail it off to you as soon as our roads melt a little but I bought it with my membership and I don't think you do audio books.

I found these books to be so interesting because they cover so much that I never had an inkling about before.  I should have, but it just never occurred to me.   And besides, the feminist in me loves the fact that  in the 1940's women in this program managed by sheer ability to overcome the "don't worry your pretty little head" or the "just hand me the bullets honey while I fire the gun" myth.  I think a lot of my fascination with WW2  comes from having so many childhood memories of those years.  Of course my perspective is as a child between 6 and 10 and are all from a perfectly safe and uneventful midwestern childhood.  Still I remember enough to make that era fascinating to me.  But this book took me by surprise because common sense should have told me that the program had to have had existed.  I read about Enigma and the Benchley code breakers practically ad nauseam and never once wondered how they came by all those codes they were breaking in the first place.  <Duh, Jeanette>

Anyway my recommendation is to consign The Enemy is Listening" to the PNBR (probably never to be read) pile and hunt up a copy of "The Secret Listeners."  It's a much better read. :)  And heaven knows any book must be a much easier read.  I really found that paperback a challenge to read.  That's why I was so quick to get the audiobook when I saw it.

Publisher's Summary

Before Bletchley Park could break the German war machine’s code, its daily military communications had to be monitored and recording by "the Listening Service" - the wartime department whose bases moved with every theatre of war: Cairo, Malta, Gibraltar, Iraq, Cyprus, as well as having listening stations along the eastern coast of Britain to intercept radio traffic in the European theatre. This is the story of the - usually very young - men and women sent out to far-flung outposts to listen in for Bletchley Park, an oral history of exotic locations and ordinary lives turned upside down by a sudden remote posting - the heady nightlife in Cairo, filing cabinets full of snakes in North Africa, and flights out to Delhi by luxurious flying boat.
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