The best books about British intelligence in WW1

Roseanna M. White Author Of The Number of Love
By Roseanna M. White

Who am I?

Roseanna M. White is a historical fiction writer whose bestselling stories always seem to find their way to war, espionage, and intrigue. A fascination with her family’s heritage led her to tales set in Edwardian and Great War England, and she’s spent the last seven years studying that culture and how the era’s events intersected with things like faith, family, the arts, and social reforms. Of course, she does all this study and writing about war and mayhem from the safety of her home in West Virginia, where life is blessedly ordinary and no one expects her to actually crack any codes in order to survive...which is definitely a good thing.

I wrote...

The Number of Love

By Roseanna M. White,

Book cover of The Number of Love

What is my book about?

Three years into the Great War, England's greatest asset is their intelligence network--field agents risking their lives to gather information, and codebreakers able to crack every German telegram. Margot De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, for the first time in her life numbers aren't enough.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Before Enigma: The Room 40 Codebreakers of the First World War

Why did I love this book?

This is a short punchy book that provides a great introduction to the topic of codebreaking in England during the Great War, giving a sweeping overview and then some entertaining and tantalizing stories about the people involved. At just over a hundred pages, this is a quick read that serves as a fun introduction to the topic.

By David Boyle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Before Enigma as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How did the British codebreakers succeed in cracking the apparently unbreakable Enigma code during the Second World War? Was it their gifted amateurism? The brilliance of Alan Turing? The invention of the very first computers? Or the pioneering work of Polish cryptographers? It was all of the above. But there is one other crucial factor, which is much less well known. The same team had done it before. The truth is that many of those most closely involved in cracking the Enigma code – Alistair Denniston, Frank Birch, Dilly Knox – had wrestled with German naval codes for most of…

Book cover of 'Blinker' Hall: Spymaster: The Man Who Brought America into World War I

Why did I love this book?

Any research into the codebreaking arm of British Intelligence during the Great War will quickly point to one man as the mastermind: Admiral Sir Reginald “Blinker” Hall. He is, at a glance, one of the most intriguing historical figures you’ll ever come across…and the more you learn, the more convinced you’ll be of that. In Blinker Hall, Spymaster, Ramsay delivers not only a thorough look into intelligence and codebreaking, using documents that have been declassified only recently to his writing, but also an insightful look into the man who orchestrated one of the most complex intelligence systems of the modern era. For anyone interested in intelligence, cryptography, or even just the invisible world behind a war that spanned continents, this book delivers it all, and does it in an engaging, entertaining style.

By David Ramsay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 'Blinker' Hall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Admiral Sir Reginald 'Blinker' Hall, the Director of Naval Intelligence (DNI) for most of the First World War, described as 'a genius in his own sphere and brilliantly successful', was one of the outstanding if largely unrecognized naval leaders of that war. Naval intelligence's ability to read and analyze German naval and diplomatic signals on a daily basis was a significant factor in the allied victory. The Germans never realized that their codes had been broken. The revelation of the Zimmermann Telegram, depicted as one of the most exciting events in the history of intelligence, astutely handled by Hall, was…

Book cover of Finding Thoroton: The Royal Marine Who Ran British Naval Intelligence in the Western Mediterranean in World War One

Why did I love this book?

British Intelligence during the First World War is most known for the work of Room 40, which led to the more famous Bletchley Park in the next World War; however, another crucial part of the operation was all the agents in the field that reported to the same man who spearheaded the codebreaking. Those in the Mediterranean were under the command of Charles “the Bold” Thoroton, and this book, written by his granddaughter’s husband, is an enthralling peek into the life of an agent on the ground. From fascinating stories of how unnamed agents found the information the Admiralty was desperate for to being targeted by counter-agent femme fatales, Finding Thoroton reveals information not to be found in any other book, compiled through careful research. A fascinating read.

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