Review of the Week: 1/9/17

Explore facets of espionage and codebreaking in our current Review of the Week.

Code warriors : NSA’s codebreakers and the secret intelligence war against the Soviet Union

Budiansky, Stephen. Knopf, 2016
389p bibl index, 9780385352666 $30.00, 9780385352673

Espionage is a dangerous business. Some consider codebreaking and cryptanalysis a more secure method of obtaining intelligence. Outside of the UK, no nation has been more adept at using signals intelligence than the US. Budiansky, a student and journalist of cryptology, has authored a significant work concerning the rise of the National Security Agency (NSA). The author focuses on US codebreakers and their efforts to solve the “Russian Problem” starting in 1943, when the US and USSR were allies. From messages gathered by an arrangement with Western Union and eventually deciphered, US codebreakers demonstrated that the Soviets had penetrated not only the Manhattan Project but numerous agencies of the US government. From the middle of WW II through the present, including successes and failures ranging from the Korean War through the Pueblo incident, Budiansky chronicles the evolution of NSA from a collection of competing signal intelligence units to a coherent organization dedicated to providing critical intelligence to policy makers in order to avoid a nuclear version of Pearl Harbor. Readers seeking a single source on the origins of the National Security Agency should put this book at the top of their list.

Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries.
Reviewer: C. C. Lovett, Emporia State University
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – History, Geography & Area Studies – North America
Choice Issue: Dec 2016