WORLD WAR II

MAGIC

A - B

 

Alvarez, David. Secret Messages: Codebreaking and American Diplomacy 1930-1945. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2000.

According to Erskine, AFIO WIN 7-00 (19 Feb. 2000), this work "focuses on the history of American diplomatic (as opposed to military) codebreaking and its influence on American foreign policy.... It covers in detail cryptanalytic operations against friends, foes and neutrals during WWII (with a chapter on work against Russian traffic)" and "contains a lot on the origin and evolution of Anglo American SIGINT collaboration."

Seamon, Proceedings 126.11 (Nov. 2000), notes the author's conclusion that for all the success of U.S. cryptanalysis before and during World War II, it seems to have "had little effect" in Washington. "For example, there is almost no evidence that President Franklin Roosevelt paid any attention to it." Kruh, Cryptologia 24.4, calls this an "excellent work." It is "the most complete account to date of the U.S. Army's top-secret Signal Intelligence Service (SIS): its creation, struggles, rapid wartime growth, and its contribution to the war effort."

For Bath, NIPQ 16.3, this is an "insightful and well documented study." This sentiment is shared by Benson, I&NS 15.4, who sees Secret Messages as a "brilliantly written and argued account." To Winn, Parameters 31 (Winter 2001-2002), Alvarez' work serves as "an operational history" of the Signal Intelligence Service. The author "does not address codebreaking in the military or naval spheres."

Alvarez, David, ed.

1. "Special Issue on Allied and Axis Signals Intelligence in World War II." Intelligence and National Security 14, no. 1 (Spring 1999): Entire issue.

Click for Table of Contents.

2. Allied and Axis Signals Intelligence in World War II. London: Frank Cass, 1999.

Clark comment: This book consists of articles originally published in Intelligence and National Security 14, no. 1 (Spring 1999). Gardner, RUSI Journal, Dec. 1999, finds this collection "strong on a wide selection of intelligence topics and nations. Just about the only omission of note ... is the USSR."

Ardman, Harvey. "U.S. Code-breakers vs. Japanese Code-breakers in World War II." American Legion Magazine, May 1972, 18-23, 38-42.

The author covers Magic and Enigma on the Allied side and the activities of the Tokumu Han on the Japanese side. The article was published before the main revelations about Ultra. A reproduction of the Chicago Tribune's infamous dispatch on the Battle of Midway appears on p. 21.

Atha, Robert I. "Bombe! 'I Could Hardly Believe It.'" Cryptologia 9, no. 4 (Oct. 1985): 332-336.

Sexton: "Memoir of one who worked with Bombes at the naval annex on Nebraska Avenue in Washington, D.C. during World War II."

Bell, Ernest L. An Initial View of Ultra as an American Weapon. Keene, NH: TSU Press, 1977.

Petersen identifies this work as "[t]hree released U.S. official documents on use of Ultra." Constantinides comments that it "is interesting to learn of the tight controls on Ultra dissemination even within the War Department."

Benson, Robert Louis. A History of U.S. Communications Intelligence during World War II: Policy and Administration. Washington, DC: NSA, Center for Cryptologic History, 1997.

Bates, NIPQ 14.2, highly recommends this work. He finds that there is "a tremendous amount of detail about the several evolving COMINT organizations," including the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, FBI, and Federal Communications Commission. In addition, the book "is replete with statistics chronicling the growth of the COMINT effort as the war progressed."

For Kruh, Cryptologia 22.2, this is an "excellent history." The reviewer, however, expresses dismay over the "service politics, interservice rivalries, disagreements and strained relationships" documented by Benson among, within, and between U.S. Comint organizations at this critical juncture in American history.

Bradley Smith, I&NS 13.4, notes that this work "was originally produced in 1976 ... as an NSA secret in-house study.... [T]his is a very useful volume which supplies much valuable information on U.S. wartime code and cipher breaking organization as well as information on American cryptographic and cryptanalytic cooperation with Britain. The most serious caveat regarding Benson's study ... is the continuing unavailability of many of the documentary sources on which the volume has been based."

Biard, Forrest R. [CAPT/USN (Ret.)]

1. "Breaking of Japanese Naval Codes: Pre-Pearl Harbor to Midway." Cryptologia 30, no. 2 (Apr. 2006): 151-158.

Speech by Biard at National Cryptologic Museum Foundation on 14 June 2002. He relates his first-hand experience as part of the team that broke JN25.

2. "The Pacific War Through the Eyes of Forrest R. 'Tex' Baird." Cryptolog 10, no. 2 (Winter 1989): entire issue.

Brooks, Tom, and Bill Horn, with Mrs. Veronica Mackay Hulick. "The WAVES, the Bombe, and Camp Sugar." Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly 21, no. 1 (Mar. 2005): 22-24.

Hulick was one of some 300 WAVES assigned to Dayton, Ohio, to operate and care for the Bombes being built at National Cash Register.

Budiansky, Stephen. Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II. New York: Free Press, 2000. London: Viking, 2000.

For Alvarez, Intelligencer 12.1, this is "the best survey to date of the role of communications intelligence in the defeat of the Axis in World War II. It is a great story with enough colorful characters and dramatic moments to fill a dozen thrillers.... Battle of Wits, however, moves beyond good anecdotes and great victories to make important contributions to our understanding of the role of wartime communications intelligence....

"Perhaps the author's greatest contribution is to add a powerful voice to the small but growing chorus challenging the 'Ultra Myth'.... The breathless discussion of Ultra and Magic ... often obscures the fact that communications intelligence was only one of several sources that informed (or misinformed) decision-makers during the war.... Engagingly written and carefully researched, Battle of Wits will become the standard survey of Anglo-American codebreaking in World War II."

Although not ready to grant the completeness claimed in the title, Baker, Proceedings 127.2 (Feb. 2001), finds that this is an "exceptionally well-written and easily accessible ... introduction to an extraordinarily complex and broad topic." The book has "several very useful appendices," and the bibliography "shows extensive research in primary sources."

Johnson, Intelligencer 11.2, finds that while this work is hardly "complete," it is "new, fresh, [and] up to date on all the latest scholarship.... Despite ... omissions on the operational front, Budiansky's book represents a successful attempt at one-stop shopping." To Kruh, Cryptologia 25.1, this is "the best account to date on WWII codebreaking.... Budiansky also offers an incisive analysis of the differences in the Army, Navy, and Bletchley Park codebreaking organizations."

Noting that while "[t]his work is comprehensive and thorough," Winn, Parameters 31 (Winter 2001-2002), adds that "[o]nly time will tell if [Budiansky's] story is 'complete' in the absolute sense of the word." The author "provides an excellent summary of the key role" the breaking of the Japanese Fleet Code in March 1942 "played in the Battle of Midway in June 1942."

Bath, NIPQ 17.2, praises the author for producing "a history that is both interesting and technically sound.." Although "there is little that is new or startling in this account,... all that has gone before ... has been carefully researched and distilled into one comprehensive account." Hanyok, I&NS 16.3, gives Budiansky's technical descriptions high marks for clarity. However, completeness is lacking in that the author "spends little time on the Axis cryptanalytic efforts.... Sometimes, too, Budiansky's criterion for inclusion of material is curious."

For Gonnerman, JIH 1.2, "the book is well written and the author has an engaging style.... However, Budiansky is a mathematician and he devotes entire chapters to explaining the mathematics behind codebreaking and the engineering behind the machines. A predisposition to math would serve the reader well in order to fully appreciate these sections."

Budiansky, Stephen. "Codebreaking with IBM Machines in World War II." Cryptologia 25, no. 4 (Oct. 2001): 241-255.

From abstract: "Standard IBM punchcard machines, supplemented by a number of ingenious add-on units developed by U.S. Army and Navy cryptanalysts, played a crucial role in the breaking of Japanese naval and military codes and German and Soviet diplomatic codes during World War II."

Burke, Colin B.

1. "Automating American Cryptanalysis 1930-45: Marvelous Machines, a Bit Too Late." Intelligence and National Security 14, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 18-39.

"America's versions of the devices used to attack ... encryption machines were technological compromises rushed to completion." And they tended to arrive too late to meet the needs of the moment, because America brought its technological skills and resources to bear on the problem too late.

2. Information and Secrecy: Vannevar Bush, Ultra, and the Other Memex. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1994.

According to Surveillant 3.6, Burke "explores the code-breaking machines developed by the U.S. Navy and independent scientists during the 1930s and 1940s." He "seeks to show that cryptanalysis is entwined with the beginnings of computers, and WWII military research."

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