Book post.


I think just about everyone is at least a little interested in the flow of information and code-breaking since the dramatic revelations by Eric Snowden last summer and ongoing. I know I am more than a little interested. Here is one article about why we should care whether the NSA has compromised the security of web data transmissions in its zeal to be able to read the transmissions of anyone it fears is a threat to US security.

It reminds me of the moral questions surrounding Stuxnet. I'm sure I don't have this issue 100% completely right side up, but I think this is the basic scenario. If you could loose a computer virus on the Iranian nuclear complex to put their work on building a bomb back 10 years, would you? You would think the simple answer is "yes! I don't want the Iranians bombing Israel", but not to computer scientists. They argue, "You want to loose a virus that harmful on the world? Yoiks! Don't do it! You can't control it once it's out." So, that's a point, too.  I mean, I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Anyway, now that I am thinking about codes and codebreaking (and not understanding the technical details on what's happening in the 21st century) I found a nifty book to read on Enigma, the code system the Germans used in WW2.  This book is great (for me) because it combines my newfound interest in transmitting messages secretly and my deep love of WW2 history.

The Secret Life of Codebreakers by Sinclair McKay.

I'm about halfway through.  It is not very technical at all, and really is about the lives of people who broke the codes and what their days were like, and how they all got along (or didn't), and stole tea cups (which was frowned upon).  So far, if you are interested in WW2 and intense efforts at code-breaking, I recommend you read it, too. Or, let me know in the comments about other good books about code-breaking in a simpler time.


  1. A- Andy is going on a field trip to Bletchley Park in a few weeks and his teacher is having them all read The Messenger Bird, in preparation. He says it is really easy, would he be interested in your book? Sam is completely jealous of Andy's field trips this year. I am too.


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