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The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies
The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies
The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies
Audiobook13 hours

The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies

Written by Jason Fagone

Narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

4/5

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About this audiobook

Joining the ranks of Hidden Figures and In the Garden of Beasts, the incredible true story of the greatest codebreaking duo that ever lived, an American woman and her husband who invented the modern science of cryptology together and used it to confront the evils of their time, solving puzzles that unmasked Nazi spies and helped win World War II.

In 1912, at the height of World War I, brilliant Shakespeare expert Elizebeth Smith went to work for an eccentric tycoon on his estate outside Chicago. The tycoon had close ties to the U.S. government, and he soon asked Elizebeth to apply her language skills to an exciting new venture: code-breaking. There she met the man who would become her husband, groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman. Though she and Friedman are in many ways the "Adam and Eve" of the NSA, Elizebeth's story, incredibly, has never been told.

In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, who played an integral role in our nation's history for forty years. After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States. As World War II raged, Elizabeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler's Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies. Meanwhile, inside an Army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma—and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life.

Fagone unveils America's code-breaking history through the prism of Smith's life, bringing into focus the unforgettable events and colorful personalities that would help shape modern intelligence. Blending the lively pace and compelling detail that are the hallmarks of Erik Larson's bestsellers with the atmosphere and intensity of The Imitation Game, The Woman Who Smashed Codes is riveting popular history at its finest.

LanguageEnglish
PublisherHarperAudio
Release dateSep 26, 2017
ISBN9780062675583
Author

Jason Fagone

Jason Fagone is a journalist who covers science, technology, and culture. Named one of the “Ten Young Writers on the Rise” by the Columbia Journalism Review, he works at the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for GQ, Esquire, The Atlantic, the New York Times, Mother Jones, and Philadelphia magazine. Fagone is also the author of Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, the X Prize, and the Race to Revive America and Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream. He lives in San Francisco, California.

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Reviews for The Woman Who Smashed Codes

Rating: 4.244318181818182 out of 5 stars
4/5

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  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    This audio book is a must!! It's about the powerful life of one of the most amazing women in history! Unfortunately we still fight in this male dominant world. We must always find the strength to lean in. Extraordinary interpretation of the narrator!
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    This was very engaging from beginning to end. Highly recommended
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Incredible story. The weaving of the two Freedman stories was really done well and kept me engaged throughout. I couldn’t stop sharing about what I was learning.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    a beautifully told and deeply touching human story; truly heroic
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    What an amazing woman Elizabeth was. Her life was a suprising chain of experiences that look almost super human. An extraordinary talented imaginative and clever inquisitive mind that could penetrate any misterious scheme and if by magic find really amazing solutions to every mistery and secrets that spies could elaborate.
    Even those of the the nazis brilliant treacherous murderous minds.
    Great audiobook congratulations to Scribd for extending us readers and listeners to enjoy this outstanding life of Elizabeth Friedman and her husband William another remarkable genius
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    A wonderful tribute to an amazing couple. Ordinary people doing extraordinary deeds.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Very interesting story! And I liked the reader for the audiobook!
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Elizebeth Friedman was someone I had never heard of until I read this book. I have learned so much about the codebreaking that went on not only during 2 world wars but also during the 20s and 30s with smuggling. I also learned some things about WW II that I did not know. This is a well-written book about a fascinating lady who made her mark on history, largely unnoticed.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Very interesting information about a subject I know a bit about and a couple people I never heard of. The author was rather more interested in the sexism Elizebeth encountered than in her (their) codebreaking, which was what I wanted to know about - not helped by the fact that the ebook I read had real formatting problems with codes formed by positioning letters (fence-post, or the demonstration substitution alphabet - they appeared in long lines going down the page, one letter per line, so it was impossible to see the connections between letters because the lines were unbroken). I learned a lot about codebreaking during both world wars and the period between - Prohibition, for one thing. The partnership between the Friedmans was excellent to see - and as usual, the government totally screwed up (leaving aside J. Edgar Hoover's cheating for power). If they'd had the two of them working together, rather than not even allowed to talk about their work to one another (because security), WWII might even have been shorter and less deadly. The author was a lot more worried about the sexism (which definitely affected their lives) than Elizebeth was - it was just the way things were, to her. To my mind, she had the choice between pushing for personal recognition (with all the drawbacks thereof - from men objecting to her pushing in, to publicity which bothered her when she did get it) and pushing for recognition of what _they_ had done, with her husband's name alone on most of it. And I doubt she even saw that as a choice. If William had tried to suppress her, it would have been different, but he loudly and publicly considered her his equal or better - so promoting _their_ work was not suppressing herself, but fitting the message (of these things which were important to make known) to the times. Now I want to read half a dozen other books about codebreaking - The Puzzle Palace, and about Bletchley Park, and and... I don't know if I'll ever reread this book, but what it taught me was valuable as well as fascinating. And the peripheral discussion of how the author found this information after all these years - Elizebeth's archived papers, and more - was almost as interesting as the story he discovered there.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    This biography is a fascinating story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman. She and her husband, William, founded modern codebreaking in the U.S. Her success in helping the American government capture smugglers and Nazis has been untold after the FBI confiscated both her and William's reports and writings. The couple broke codes in order to protect their country and in the process helped to establish the surveillance giant NSA. There are so many details that at times the story drags, but I enjoyed learning so much about the behind-the-scenes con