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

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

Liza Mundy. Hachette, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-0-316-35253-6

Journalist Mundy (The Richer Sex) strikes historical gold in this appealing tale of wartime intelligence work. As the U.S. headed to war in 1941, two things became clear to military leaders: victory depended on successful code breaking and they didn’t have nearly enough people working on it. The solution was for the Army and Navy to recruit women for cryptanalysis. Tens of thousands of women—mostly college students and teachers with an affinity for math, science, and foreign languages—answered the call for this top-secret work. Drawing from recently declassified National Security Agency files, Mundy rescues these women’s stories from anonymity and obscurity. She vividly describes the intricacies of code breaking while weaving in crucial historical information about the war and women’s participation in it. Reflecting her contention that successful cryptanalysis is a collective endeavor, Mundy utilizes individual women’s activities to illustrate her points. Though many women flit across the pages, some, such as Dot Braden of the Army Signal Intelligence Service, appear throughout, giving the story its emotional center. These intelligent and independent women faced dismissive attitudes from their male peers, yet they persevered. Mundy persuasively shows that recognizing women’s contributions to the war effort is critical to understanding the Allied victory. [em]Agent: Todd Shuster, Aevitas Creative Management. (Oct.) [/em]