Naval Warfare Books

Book reviews


Harris, Robert

1996, Random House
ISBN 0804115486
Paperback, 372 pages

Type. Novel
Pros. Fast-paced, accurate and well written
Cons. Nothing obvious

This novel, the author's second after the fantastic Fatherland of 1992, is set in England in early 1943, starring one young mathematician who is recovering after a nervous breakdown as a result of working on breaking the German Naval Enigma cypher.

While recovering (both from overwork and a broken heart) at a nearby village in March 1943, he is brought back to work with the very bad news that the Germans have changed their cypher and Bletchley Park is blinded again. The whole war at sea seems to hang in the balance.

He is forced to risk his already fragile mind and health to try to break the new cypher (the real-life signal book change in March 1943) and at the same time is becoming increasingly convinced that there is a spy at Bletchley.

The book is detailed, thoroughly researched and a thrill to read. This really is a top-notch novel on a fascinating subject. The author got rare access to Bletchley Park, its current staff and former workers who helped break the codes, and he spent an obvious effort on first-class primary documents at the Public Records Office. In many cases he reprinted authentic decrypted messages from German U-boats at sea in 1943.

Review written by GuĂ°mundur Helgason.

Published on 27 Feb 2000.

This title is highly recommended.

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