Monday, July 2, 2018

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

Even before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the U.S. Navy had realized its intelligence operation was woefully inadequate. The Navy needed code-breakers, what are more formally known as cryptanalysts, and it began recruiting them … at the elite women’s colleges of the Northeast.

Between them, the two services—which were so competitive one wonders at times who they considered the true enemy in World War II—recruited more than 10,000 women to work at its top-secret code-breaking operations in Washington, D.C. Their story is told for the first time by journalist Liza Mundy in Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II. Of the 20,000 code-breakers in both services, more than half were women.

Mundy interviewed more than twenty of these “code girls” for her book. Some of them came to Washington as civilians working for the Army at a former women’s college in Arlington, Virginia called Arlington Hall, which it converted into its code-breaking nerve center. Others worked as civilians for the Navy or, more often, joined the WAVES, an acronym for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. The Navy took over another women’s college, Mount Vernon Seminary, in Northwest Washington, which it re-named the Navy Communications Annex.

read more of Kathryn Smith's review of Liza Mundy's "Code Girls" @ History News Network

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