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

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Cassandra Campbell

13 Hours 37 Minutes


September 2017

Audio Book Summary

NPR Best Book of 2017
"Not all superheroes wear capes, and Elizebeth Smith Friedman should be the subject of a future Wonder Woman movie."- The New York Times
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 riviting popular history at its finest.
Includes an enhancement PDF.

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  • Mark Trevithick

    A well crafted and remarkable story of one of the unsung American heroes of World War II and more, Elizebeth Smith Friedman. The depth of the research and history of put into this book is incredible, and Jason Fagone made it an engrossing tale I looked forward to getting back to every day. Cassadndra Campbell did a tremendous job of narration. Very professional, excellent diction, tone, and pace; all critical for someone like myself with hearing loss and hearing aids.

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  • Rachel O

    Fabulous story of an as of now undocumented time in our history. Eye opening, extremely interesting and well written. it is about time that Elizebeth Smith Friedman gets her due and thanks.Everyone should read this book!

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  • Terry T

    Great book a must for keeping up on history

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  • Ivie a

    a must read for both men and women who want to learn true history of United States.

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