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The Secret In Building 26

Book Review

 

Title:

The Secret In Building 26

Author:

Jim DeBrosse and Colin Burke

Publisher:

Random House, New  York, NY

ISBN:

0-375-50807-4

Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

August, 2004

Rating:

During the Second World War, a select  group of American mathematicians, engineers, and military personnel developed  a machine to break the secret Nazi communication codes. The Secret in Building  26 tells the story of their endeavor.

Get more information about The Secret In Building 26 at amazon.comStarting in the late 1930's, the United States realized that with the coming clouds of  war looming on the horizon, the ability to read the secret military and diplomatic codes of their future enemies would be crucial to the prosecution of the war. The government in conjunction with the National Cash Register Company assembled  a special team to develop machinery to crack these codes. Starting out in humble surroundings, the importance of their success increased dramatically with the  attack on Pearl Harbor and they were moved to a large building deep inside the  National Cash Register compound to eventually employ over 1000 people.

The British had early successes in using early mechanical computers to break the German Enigma code. Though slow and unreliable, groups of these large mechanical computers were employed with varying degrees of success against the German ciphers.  Through an exchange of information between the Allies, the Americans enhanced the design of the British machines, and began to produce them in sufficient  quantities to provide real-time information about strategic planning by the Germans. Upon the ultimate success of the Allies in the prosecution of the war,  these secret machines were employed into the 1950's to decipher the secret codes  of the Eastern Bloc countries until they were eventually dismantled and buried.

This book is particularly interesting because it relies on a combination of  recently de-classified documents and pictures, and also uses the recollections  of some of the participants in this project to provide a compelling story of  clandestine warfare during that era of the nation's history. Included in the  center are pictures of the mechanical wonders this group designed and of the  most important members of the American and British teams.

 

 

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