Must Read: ‘The Woman Who Smashed Codes’

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The Woman Who Smashed Codes

Monica  Reads, a Review by MONICA WEST

Are you familiar with the likes of J. Edgar Hoover, William Friedman, Elizebeth Friedman, George Fabyan, Adolph Hitler, and Franklin D. Roosevelt?  Well, I want you all to read this incredibly interesting non-fiction book. 

You will be amazed.  You will be so surprised.  You will learn secrets from the World War II era that have been bandied about and discussed for years.  You will get clarification and confirmation on subjects that are only talked about now because of time lapsed and death of participants.

  Secret oaths were demanded by officials of our government to make sure security of our code-breaking secrets were not breached.  The time has come by authors like Jason Fagone who go to great lengths to find out the how, whys, and where of certain groups and people.

Monica West

What does NSA have in common with CIA and FBI?  You will find out when your read this fantastic trip down memory lane of a woman who in 1916 was a Quaker schoolteacher and poetry scholar named Elizebeth Smith. 

The Friedmans were happily married for many years and had a delightful co-existence in positions of the U.S. Government that required silence about their individual jobs.   They were serendipitously thrown together in an almost comedic circumstance and became the backbone of the code-breaking society that is part of our government’s daily activity.

The Invisible War is how the author depicts the machinations of William and Elizebeth Friedman as they hone their code-breaking skills to help end the war.  Did they get recognized for their efforts?  You decide.  Did their efforts save lives?  You decide.  Was J. Edgar Hoover a bamboozler or a saint?  You decide.

It is a non-fiction book in the 921 SMITH section of your local library.  It is well worth a read.  It is well worth the time.  It was very well-written.  

About Jason Fagone: I’m a 41-year-old journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle and an author with Dey Street Books. Previously, I covered technology, sports, and culture for the Huffington Post Highline and other places. In 2014-15 I was a Knight-Wallace Fellow in journalism at the University of Michigan, and now I live in San Francisco with my wife and daughter. Contact me at jfagone at gmail dot com.

Monica West reviews books for and Manchester Ink Link. Monica is known for her love of history and her lifelong love for reading. She has a bachelor’s degree in History, with a minor in English. “My years of reading for leisure and pleasure have given me the insight to read a book and analyze the author’s baggage, cargo and ability to write the language of his/her mind and utilize the gift of prose to educate and entertain the reader. Go get a book, read it and enjoy the adventure.” Contact Monica at

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