100 books like The Codebreakers

By David Kahn,

Here are 100 books that The Codebreakers fans have personally recommended if you like The Codebreakers. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Robbyn Swan Author Of A Matter of Honor: Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame and a Family’s Quest For Justice

From my list on American code-breaking in World War II.

Who are we?

Anthony Summers and I are the authors of several books that focus on the world of intelligence, including The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden- which was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. As we revealed in our most recent book, A Matter of Honor, U.S. code-breaking efforts in World War II began with a colossal failure – Pearl Harbor. According to the first official report on the disaster, the attack “had been clearly foreshadowed” in the Japanese diplomatic traffic the U.S had decoded. The story of how the Americans turned that initial failure into success came to fascinate me.

Robbyn's book list on American code-breaking in World War II

Robbyn Swan Why did Robbyn love this book?

Mundy’s unputdownable book tells the story of the women behind some of the most significant code-breaking triumphs of the war. The work of women like Elizabeth Friedman – who got her start unpicking the codes of Prohibition-era liquor smugglers – was one of the war’s best-kept secrets.

By Liza Mundy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Code Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An expert on East European politics and economics analyzes and evaluates Western policies toward the new East European democracies as they struggle to build stable political orders and functioning market economies. He argues that the West must give higher priority to assisting the region and reorient its strategies so as to emphasize the political and administrative dimensions of economic reconstruction. He reviews the economic legacy of past Western policies and of Eastern Europe's previous dependency on the Soviet Union, and then examines in detail the changing East-West trade patterns, the prospect for Western investment and technology transfer, the questions of…


Book cover of Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II

Mark Ciampa Author Of Security Awareness: Applying Practical Security in Your World

From my list on how to break things (encryption, passwords, etc.).

Who am I?

I have had the opportunity to write (I have written over 30 college textbooks on technology, most of them in the area of cybersecurity), study (my PhD dissertation was on cybersecurity), teach (I have taught at colleges and universities my entire career about technology, networking, and cybersecurity), and research (I have published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles) on the topic of cybersecurity. But I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the average computer user who struggles with how to protect their technology devices. This has helped drive my passion to focus on practical cybersecurity for everyone.

Mark's book list on how to break things (encryption, passwords, etc.)

Mark Ciampa Why did Mark love this book?

It is hard to underestimate the significance of code breaking during World War II. Without the work of dedicated mathematicians, linguists, and others the great conflicts such as the Battle of Midway and the German U-boat "wolfpacks" that sank over 13 million tons of Allied supplies could have easily been up for grabs. But due to the codebreakers the balance shifted to the Allies. And what is even equally impressive is that the Axis powers never knew that their encoded messages were being read. Stephen Budiansky traces how the codebreakers pulled off this feat while at the same time often battling within their own ranks about who should decode the message, how the messages should be used, and who should get the credit.

By Stephen Budiansky,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Battle of Wits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Drawing from newly declassified documents, the author chronicles the story of codebreaking during the last world war, from cat-and-mouse games with Nazi U-boats to the invasion of Normandy.


Book cover of Joe Rochefort's War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway

Robbyn Swan Author Of A Matter of Honor: Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame and a Family’s Quest For Justice

From my list on American code-breaking in World War II.

Who are we?

Anthony Summers and I are the authors of several books that focus on the world of intelligence, including The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden- which was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. As we revealed in our most recent book, A Matter of Honor, U.S. code-breaking efforts in World War II began with a colossal failure – Pearl Harbor. According to the first official report on the disaster, the attack “had been clearly foreshadowed” in the Japanese diplomatic traffic the U.S had decoded. The story of how the Americans turned that initial failure into success came to fascinate me.

Robbyn's book list on American code-breaking in World War II

Robbyn Swan Why did Robbyn love this book?

The first biography of Captain Joseph Rochefort, who led “Station Hypo”, the Navy’s code-breaking unit in Hawaii. Tragically, those running the U.S. cryptanalysis effort in Washington had decided to focus on breaking Japan’s diplomatic code. Only after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor were Rochefort and his team permitted to throw all their efforts at breaking Japanese naval codes. Their work led to America’s resounding success at Midway, only months after the disaster at Pearl. Carlson does an admirable job of bringing to life one of the forgotten men of the war.

By Elliot Carlson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Joe Rochefort's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Elliot Carlson's award-winning biography of Capt. Joe Rochefort is the first to be written about the officer who headed Station Hypo, the U.S. Navy's signals monitoring and cryptographic intelligence unit at Pearl Harbor, and who broke the Japanese navy's code before the Battle of Midway. His conclusions, bitterly opposed by some top Navy brass, are credited with making the U.S. victory possible and helping to change the course of the war. The author tells the story of how opponents in Washington forced Rochefort's removal from Station Hypo and denied him the Distinguished Service Medal recommended by Admiral Nimitz.


Book cover of Combined Fleet Decoded: The Secret History of American Intelligence and the Japanese Navy in World War II

Robbyn Swan Author Of A Matter of Honor: Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame and a Family’s Quest For Justice

From my list on American code-breaking in World War II.

Who are we?

Anthony Summers and I are the authors of several books that focus on the world of intelligence, including The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden- which was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. As we revealed in our most recent book, A Matter of Honor, U.S. code-breaking efforts in World War II began with a colossal failure – Pearl Harbor. According to the first official report on the disaster, the attack “had been clearly foreshadowed” in the Japanese diplomatic traffic the U.S had decoded. The story of how the Americans turned that initial failure into success came to fascinate me.

Robbyn's book list on American code-breaking in World War II

Robbyn Swan Why did Robbyn love this book?

A groundbreaking work of research that is at the same time a page-turning read that sheds new light on the epic battles of the conflict. Prados interweaves the intelligence successes and failures of the U.S. and Japanese combatants in a way that has not previously been attempted. The resulting work adds hugely to our understanding of the war in the Pacific.

By John Prados,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Combined Fleet Decoded as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The most authoritative and revealing examination yet of the way intelligence--of all kinds--was instrumental in defeating Japan. Prados gives a new picture of the war in the Pacific, one which will challenge many previous conceptions about that conflict, and one which will be irresistible to those readers who find histories of that period fascinating. 16 pages of photos.


Book cover of The Secret War: Spies, Ciphers, and Guerrillas, 1939-1945

Nicholas Reynolds Author Of Need to Know: World War II and the Rise of American Intelligence

From my list on citizen spies building American intelligence in WWII.

Who am I?

The defining event in my parents’ lives, World War II has always been in my blood. When I was growing up, it would surface now and again when old comrades came to visit or when we came across souvenirs from the war. My favorite was a carefully etched German map showing sea lanes in the Caribbean, exotic and somehow menacing at the same time. My curiosity piqued, I knew I wanted to be in the thick of history—which meant reading and writing about the war, getting my PhD in history, and becoming a Marine and an intelligence officer.  

Nicholas' book list on citizen spies building American intelligence in WWII

Nicholas Reynolds Why did Nicholas love this book?

An amazing storyteller and unrivalled expert on World War II, Sir Max is best in class when it comes to combining the big and little pictures. He renders pithy judgments on thorny subjects. This may be the best overview of intelligence from east to west, north to south in World War II. Again like David Kahn and Christopher Andrew, Sir Max is generous to fellow writers and gracious to readers. I remember a talk at a Washington, DC bookstore to which a reader brought a stack of Hastings books—perhaps 10 or so—for his autograph. Sir Max did not hesitate, cheerfully reaching for his pen.

By Max Hastings,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Secret War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'As gripping as any spy thriller, Hastings's achievement is especially impressive, for he has produced the best single volume yet written on the subject' Sunday Times

'Authoritative, exciting and notably well written' Daily Telegraph

'A serious work of rigourous and comprehensive history ... royally entertaining and readable' Mail on Sunday

In The Secret War, Max Hastings presents a worldwide cast of characters and extraordinary sagas of intelligence and Resistance to create a new perspective on the greatest conflict in history. The book links tales of high courage ashore, at sea and in the air to the work of the brilliant…


Book cover of For the President's Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency from Washington to Bush

Nicholas Reynolds Author Of Need to Know: World War II and the Rise of American Intelligence

From my list on citizen spies building American intelligence in WWII.

Who am I?

The defining event in my parents’ lives, World War II has always been in my blood. When I was growing up, it would surface now and again when old comrades came to visit or when we came across souvenirs from the war. My favorite was a carefully etched German map showing sea lanes in the Caribbean, exotic and somehow menacing at the same time. My curiosity piqued, I knew I wanted to be in the thick of history—which meant reading and writing about the war, getting my PhD in history, and becoming a Marine and an intelligence officer.  

Nicholas' book list on citizen spies building American intelligence in WWII

Nicholas Reynolds Why did Nicholas love this book?

This is another groundbreaking book, but from the White House perspective. Broader in scope, For the President’s Eyes Only is another work that is both scholarly and readable. It may be the single best book on American intelligence, valuable as an introduction or an overview. Not unlike David Kahn, Christopher Andrew did much to invent the field of intelligence history—and to welcome scholars and practitioners (including yours truly) into the field.

By Christopher Andrew,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked For the President's Eyes Only as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the co-author of KGB: The Inside Story and an acknowledged authority on the subject comes "the most important book ever written about American intelligence."--David Kahn, author of The Codebreakers and Hitler's Spies


Book cover of Wartime Washington: The Secret OSS Journal of James Grafton Rogers, 1942-1943

Nicholas Reynolds Author Of Need to Know: World War II and the Rise of American Intelligence

From my list on citizen spies building American intelligence in WWII.

Who am I?

The defining event in my parents’ lives, World War II has always been in my blood. When I was growing up, it would surface now and again when old comrades came to visit or when we came across souvenirs from the war. My favorite was a carefully etched German map showing sea lanes in the Caribbean, exotic and somehow menacing at the same time. My curiosity piqued, I knew I wanted to be in the thick of history—which meant reading and writing about the war, getting my PhD in history, and becoming a Marine and an intelligence officer.  

Nicholas' book list on citizen spies building American intelligence in WWII

Nicholas Reynolds Why did Nicholas love this book?

Memoirs and diaries open doors to the past. I cherish this obscure book because it is by a man who sat in the wheelhouse of American intelligence in wartime Washington. He was both insider—part of the ruling elite—and outsider—an independent westerner. Rogers was a perceptive observer who religiously recorded events and impressions as they occurred, which makes this book even more valuable. He lets the reader feel what it was like in the nation’s capital, and doesn’t spare the high and mighty when they transgress the bounds of common sense. The descriptions of the OSS leadership alone are worth the price of admission.

By Thomas Troy (editor), James Grafton Rogers,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of A Very Principled Boy: The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy and Cold Warrior

Nicholas Reynolds Author Of Need to Know: World War II and the Rise of American Intelligence

From my list on citizen spies building American intelligence in WWII.

Who am I?

The defining event in my parents’ lives, World War II has always been in my blood. When I was growing up, it would surface now and again when old comrades came to visit or when we came across souvenirs from the war. My favorite was a carefully etched German map showing sea lanes in the Caribbean, exotic and somehow menacing at the same time. My curiosity piqued, I knew I wanted to be in the thick of history—which meant reading and writing about the war, getting my PhD in history, and becoming a Marine and an intelligence officer.  

Nicholas' book list on citizen spies building American intelligence in WWII

Nicholas Reynolds Why did Nicholas love this book?

Biography, especially this riveting biography, is a great way to learn about intelligence in World War II. Bradley looks into dark corners to uncover the almost unbelievable truth about a Soviet spy in the front office of American spy chief William J. Donovan. Like James Grafton Rogers, Bradley tells us what it was like to live and work in Washington during World War II—but with another layer of intrigue and, yes, treachery. 75 years after the fact we tend to forget that a group of privileged Americans like Lee—a Rhodes Scholar and Wall Street lawyer distantly related to Robert E. Leen—once thought that communism might be a viable alternative to capitalism and the economic misery of the depression.

By Mark A. Bradley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Very Principled Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Duncan Chaplin Lee was a Rhodes Scholar, patriot, and descendent of one of America's most distinguished families,and possibly the best-placed mole ever to infiltrate U.S. intelligence operations. In A Very Principled Boy intelligence expert and former CIA officer Mark A. Bradley traces the tangled roots of Lee's betrayal and reveals his harrowing struggle to stay one step ahead of America's spy hunters during and after World War II.Exposed to leftist politics while studying at Oxford, Lee became a committed, albeit covert, member of the Communist Party. After following William Wild Bill" Donovan to the newly formed Office of Strategic Services,…


Book cover of Cryptonomicon

Robert J. Lloyd Author Of The Bloodless Boy

From my list on science-based historical fiction novels.

Who am I?

I write as Robert J. Lloyd, but my friends call me Rob. Having studied Fine Art at a BA degree level (starting as a landscape painter but becoming a sculpture/photography/installation/performance generalist), I then moved to writing. During my MA degree in The History of Ideas, I happened to read Robert Hooke’s diary, detailing the life and experiments of this extraordinary and fascinating man. My MA thesis and my Hooke & Hunt series of historical thrillers are all about him. I’m fascinated by early science, which was the initial ‘pull’ into writing these stories, but the political background of the times (The Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis, for example) is just as enticing. 

Robert's book list on science-based historical fiction novels

Robert J. Lloyd Why did Robert love this book?

About WWII codebreaking, the reason this makes my ‘Best 5’ is that, besides being constantly inventive and informative, it’s also very funny. (I’m that shallow.)

There are similarities, I think, with Catch 22, in the plot’s intelligence, absurdity, and dreamlike turns.

I think Stephenson’s character Bobbie Shaftoe, a soldier who carries out counterintelligence deceptions, is hilarious. Also, Stephenson’s use of real historical characters–he presents believable portraits of Alan Turing, Douglas MacArthur, Karl Dönitz, and Hermann Göring, with a walk-on appearance by Albert  Einsteingave me license to do so in my own fiction.

By Neal Stephenson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Cryptonomicon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With this extraordinary first volume in an epoch-making masterpiece, Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century.

In 1942, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse—mathematical genius and young Captain in the U.S. Navy—is assigned to detachment 2702. It is an outfit so secret that only a handful of people know it exists, and some of those people have names like Churchill and Roosevelt. The mission of Waterhouse and Detachment 2702—commanded by Marine Raider Bobby Shaftoe-is to keep the Nazis ignorant of the fact that Allied Intelligence…


Book cover of Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-boat Codes, 1939-1943

Mark Ciampa Author Of Security Awareness: Applying Practical Security in Your World

From my list on how to break things (encryption, passwords, etc.).

Who am I?

I have had the opportunity to write (I have written over 30 college textbooks on technology, most of them in the area of cybersecurity), study (my PhD dissertation was on cybersecurity), teach (I have taught at colleges and universities my entire career about technology, networking, and cybersecurity), and research (I have published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles) on the topic of cybersecurity. But I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the average computer user who struggles with how to protect their technology devices. This has helped drive my passion to focus on practical cybersecurity for everyone.

Mark's book list on how to break things (encryption, passwords, etc.)

Mark Ciampa Why did Mark love this book?

David Kahn explains the most widely-known effort (widely-known today but in complete secrecy then) to decipher messages sent by the Germans using their Enigma machines during World War II. This book looks at the groundbreaking work done by Polish mathematicians in the 1930s, how Enigma machines were rescued from sinking German U-boats, and how Bletchley Park in Britain became the focal point of breaking these transmissions. Much of the book focuses on how Enigma machines, rotors, and codebooks were confiscated from German submarines and surface vessels, and how these were then used to allow the Allies, by the war's end, to read German messages almost as quickly as the Germans could send them.

By David Kahn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Seizing the Enigma tells the thrilling story of the Royal Navy's battle to crack the Germans' supposedly unbreakable U-boat Enigma code, which would allow the vital Allied convoys in the North Atlantic to be routed away from Doenitz's wolfpacks. This battle was fought both on shore and at sea: by an assortment of scientists, chess champions and linguists, including Alan Turing, the father of the modern computer, who struggled to crack Enigma at Bletchley Park, and in the Atlantic by sailors and intelligence officers, such as Ian Fleming, the future creator of James Bond, who undertook dangerous and often fatal…


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