Between Silk and Cyanide

Between Silk and Cyanide

A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945

Book - 2000
Average Rating:
6
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A World War II cryptographer chronicles his career in the Special Operations Executive, discussing his replacement of outmoded codes with one-time silk-printed codes.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Simon & Schuster, 2000
Edition: First Touchstone edition
ISBN: 9780684867809
068486780X
Branch Call Number: History 940.548 Mar

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w
WendyLC
Sep 27, 2016

The best book I have read in 2016...and I don't expect to read one better.

m
mackiecat
Sep 04, 2015

Explained quite clearly and with humor, code-breaking in the UK has never seemed so accessible. We think of codemakers and codebreakers as working on foreign codes to see what the enemy is up to. Actually, codebreakers had the most trouble breaking their own agents' codes from behind enemy lines. One-time codes were printed on silk to be hidden in clothing. Messages were created under duress, and you never knew precisely which code the spy was using for that message. Or whether the spy would get it right. Translation was done by several people who were aware two things were effected by the time it took to decode: military operations, and discovery of the spies. A real-life cliffhanger of the best sort. Highly recommended.

morrisonist Jul 16, 2015

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.

The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause.

For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

p
patcarstensen
Jul 03, 2015

Marks was, at 23, the "chief of codes" for one of the British organizations running agents in occupied Europe in WWII. With wry humor poked mostly at himself, he provides insight into the courage of the agents and the bureaucratic idiocies that put them at risk.

byagoodfire Feb 26, 2015

Great read! Very visual given his ability to set the scene for films or theatre. Loved the way one just steps into London, the war, peoples' lives.

History that reads like really well-written fiction.

n
nsystems
Dec 08, 2014

De Gaulle claimed his code was unbreakable. This guy cracked it easily, and showed that the Germans could, too.

His becoming a cryptographer happened accidentally, but it turned out he was amazingly good at it. This is a great memoir/spy story/history.

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