Liza Mundy: Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II



Online read Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II AUTHOR Liza Mundy – ecogenlife.org

Fit the typical profile of Arlington Hall recruits a teacher who left her job at a girls boarding school in Virginia to not only serve her country but do exciting and challenging work than was available to most women in peacetime The military recruited heavily for women with four year degrees which were rare at the time but reuired for teachers Arlington Hall was a place where a woman could fulfill her intellectual potential where she was encouraged to learn and do as much as possible as fast as possible and work as hard as possible The code breakers work was crucial to winning the warAccording to this book the women worked for seven days straight with their eighth off day spent on shopping errands and probably housework as well However my mother did not mind the long hours On her commute from Washington she even ran into Eleanor Roosevelt one morning around 6 Roosevelt said she took early walks to evade the Secret Service Like other women in this book my mother roomed with another woman who was also a code breaker and who became a close friend and she enjoyed the camaraderie of her whole code breaking groupAuthor Liza Mundy weaves a number of narrative strands She discusses the work done at not only Arlington Hall but at the separate Navy code breaking facility where most code breakers were WAVES and at Sugar Camp Sugar Camp was an NCR rustic retreat outside Dayton Ohio sed in peacetime to train salesmen during the war it housed WAVES who wired the bombes that NCR manufactured to break the German Enigma codes Mundy gives as much technical detail on code breaking as the average nonspecialist reader can probably handle This includes work done during World War 1 and between the wars Some World War 1 code breakers carried right on into World War 2I was disappointed that almost all the World War 2 information focuses on the Japanese codes It s true that the Japanese codes were extremely challenging They were complex the Japanese sed several different codes and the codes were changed constantly It was hard to find Americans who knew Japanese The code breakers were given some basic relevant vocabulary Then Mundy mentions only in passing late in the book the decoded messages were passed to translators many of them missionaries or children of missionaries who had lived in Japan Mundy also mentions somewhere that the messages of many other countries were decoded at Arlington Hall I d assume this was also true of the Navy facility But that s all she says The organization of the code breaking facilities seems to have been complex with people working in many different groups for both efficiency and secrecy I gained little sense of the overall organization or what the groups were I have no idea what my mother worked on but my guess is messages in French She had a BA in French she was fluent in French and I d assume Vichy France was pumping out messages at the same phenomenal rate as other countriesMundy may have focused primarily on the Japanese code breaking group due to her choice to tell the personal stories of a number of code breakers especially Dorothy Dot Braden now Dorothy Braden Bruce Dot worked in a Japanese group and Mundy interviewed her extensively for this book Dot s personal life included her close friendship with her roommate code breaker Ruth Weston Dot s on off engagement to a soldier named George Rush and Towns and elite colleges than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II While their brothers and boyfriends took p arms these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code breaking Their efforts shortened the war saved countless lives and gave them access to.

Exceptionally well written and tells a story that has been hidden for years Not the British one but the American story This book is not a great work of literature but the story is well worth reading It was so interesting to learn about the Code Girls and how much their intelligence and courage contributed to ending WWII It is also frustrating to learn how poorly they were treated once the war ended superb and informative book Lots of names dates and detail to absorb But was easy enough to do soThank you couk for sorting out my mis order so ickly and efficiently In the same vein as Hidden Figures this history of the female codebreakers that contributed significantly to the progress of WWII is long overdue The author interviewed a number of the codebreakers and their families and researched the topic extensively when the previously classified information was finally declassified The codebreakers were sworn to silence while employed and for many years afterwards in most cases their husbands and families had no idea of the importance and complexity of the job the young women were doing during the war It was generally believed that they had fulfilled some menial clerical functionThe author incorporates personal information from a number of the code girls and factual information on many others Women were responsible for many of the most important code breaking accomplishments during the war and their efforts definitely helped the US to win the war on both fronts They actually learned of the Japanese surrender before many in the government and military didWomen were recruited from colleges and niversities and many had been trained as teachers one of the few occupations available to educated women at the time They Texan for the Holidays (Brodys Crossing, underwent extensive screening and training to ensure that they were fit for the work They arrived in Washington DC in droves and were housed in hastily constructed rather Spartan accommodations The work was scheduled 24 hours a day and housing was so limited that it wasn tncommon for multiple girls to Too Wild to Hold (Legendary Lovers use the same bed They were housed and fed and provided with a wage that was than any of them could ever had made as teachers nevertheless their pay rate was still 25 30% less than men doing the same work It was an exciting time to be in the Capitol and the women also had lively social lives some of them being courted by multiple men inniform and all of them maintaining a steady correspondence with one or men who were serving the countryThe technical information relating to the strategy and tactics of code breaking was The Man from Her Past (Welcome to Honesty, uite detailed but somewhat inscrutable to me so I skimmedickly some of those sections suffice it to say that it reuired an extreme amount of organization attention to detail a mathematical orientation razor sharp memories and ability to see patterns both small and largeI found the book The Naturalists Daughter uite riveting with enough personal detail to enliven the story and enough technical detail to establish just how serious and demanding their work was I can definitely imagine that a movie will be made of this exciting and interesting chapter in our nation s history I heard about Code Girls several months before publication and was determined to read it as soon as possible My mother was one of the code breakers at Arlington Hall a largely civilian group of women who workednder the auspices of the US Army She. The award winning New York Times bestseller about the American women who secretly served as codebreakers during World War II a prodigiously researched and engrossing New York Times book that shines a light on a hidden chapter of American history Denver PostRecruited by the US Army and Navy from small.

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Ot s postwar marriage to another soldier named Jim Bruce Dot also had brothers in the war In between handling all that coded text Dot and other code breakers wrote huge numbers of letters to husbands fianc s brothers even soldiers they d never met who wanted pen pals The workforce was mostly female my mother said there was only one man in her group an elderly Egyptologist who had worked on cracking hieroglyphics But the code breakers lives were full of men to the extent that Mundy relates pregnancies were not The Weather Girl uncommon amongnmarried women at Arlington Hall The Navy was much tighter and reuired even married pregnant women to it work I can t help wondering whether my 30 ish mother was also feverishly writing to soldiers and dating numerous men when they were on leave Certainly not my father they did not meet till after the war and in any case he was rejected by the draft due to a medical conditionAlthough Mundy goes back and forth between code breaking organizations and various personal stories she manages to move through the war narrative or less chronologically Her descriptions of military and naval action are mostly focused on the end of the war especially the excitements of D Day and the Japanese surrender My mother said that two of her coworkers always joked that by the end of the war they d be cutting out paper dolls When my mother and others came in after their day off they discovered those two coworkers had spent that day making paper dolls sing every scrap of paper they d saved p and had hung the dolls all over the office Mundy mentions that people danced in the streets of WashingtonHowever relieved the women code breakers were their immediate experiences were not altogether joyous The Arlington Hall workers were given a speech encouraging them all to it work as soon as possible Most did at least after they married or had a child A few did stay into the Cold War and beyond The US mounted a reverse recruitment campaign telling all women it was their patriotic duty to turn over their jobs to returning men Women married the fianc s they d been corresponding with and proceeded to have babies Some were happy housewives some were not Many including my mother missed the sense of challenge and purpose they d had as code breakers and went back to work After the war my mother got a graduate degree in mathematics which my father a physicist never The Innocents Dark Seduction understood Her verbal skills were so much stronger he said why was she determined to study mathematics But mathematics was needed and valued at Arlington Hall and many women did not discover their aptitude for itntil they worked there My mother waited till her children were old enough then spent the rest of her career as a college math professor Most of the code breakers still alive are now in assisted living facilities It s good that Mundy interviewed some because they were told their work was top secret and should never ever be revealed Many revealed nothing substantive while they were alive including my mother though it was clearly one of the happiest times of her lifeWhen I was 12 or 13 my mother sat me down and taught me the rudiments of code breaking This was just the beginning she said the work at Arlington Hall was much harder What she was teaching me was not classified But I should learn something about breaking codes because I d never know when I might need to. Careers previously denied to them A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history; now through dazzling research and interviews with surviving code girls bestselling author Liza Mundy brings to life this riveting and vital story of American courage service and scientific accomplishme.

Liza Mundy is a staff writer at the Washington Post and the bestselling author of Michelle A Biography and Everything Conceivable among other works She received her AB degree from Princeton University and earned an MA in English literature at the University of Virginia She has won awards for essays profiles and science writing from the Sunday Magazine Editors Association the Maryland Delaware DC Press Association the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors The Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation She was a 2003 Kaiser Foundation Media Fellow and a 2005 Media Fellow at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole Massachusetts Mundy lives in Arlington Virginia