“It's not quite true that history is written by the winners. It's written by the best publicists on the winning team.”
― Jason Fagone, The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies
"One way of thinking about science is that it’s a check against the natural human tendency to see patterns that might not be there. It’s a way of knowing when a pattern is real and when it’s a trick of your mind.”
― Jason Fagone, The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies
The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason FagoneJune 13, 2019On Monday, June 3rd, the Booked for the Day Book Group met to discuss, The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone. Here are a few things we discussed during the meeting:
- We started the discussion talking about the Fabyan Villa Museum & Japanese Garden in Geneva. Several of our members had been there or visited after reading the book. We talked about the grounds and what Elizebeth and William would have experienced while being there. We also talked about the information we learned from the docents and compared it to what we read in the book.
- Most of us knew about the Nazis in South America but we did not know the extent of their involvement or the implications. Another hidden part of history that was a surprise and another reason why we were glad we read this book.
- In this book we once again read how J. Edgar Hoover took credit for someone else’s work much like in the book, “Killers of the Flower Moon.” George Fabyan was another high powered character that took credit for William and Elizebeth’s work and they were powerless to do anything about. Another display of how money and politicians effect our country and our world.
- One of our members brought up how things have not changed for our veterans. William’s treatment at the hospital when he had his nervous breakdown is very much what is happening today with our soldier’s lack of help with their PTSD. With William, the secrets he had to keep must have taken a toll on him and Elizebeth.
- Another member mentioned an item in the story indicating that history does repeat itself. The slogan they used to help keep us out of World War II, Make America First Again, is now being heard as Make American Great Again. Another form of isolationism.
- One can argue that society has changed, but we are still seeing women in science being denied recognition for their work. Elizebeth was kept out of history both for security reasons and because she was a woman. The group was greatly impressed with her ability to see patterns and all the work she never got credit for while she was alive.
- We were surprised to find out that Ian Fleming and Roald Dahl were actual WWII spy.
- Another thing that has not changed was the lack of sharing of information between intelligence agencies. We saw the problem of sharing between the Coast Guard and Hoover’s FBI but was surprised that the British Intelligence Community would not reciprocate in sharing with us.
- We all thought that the amount of historical detail Fagone packed into the book was amazing.
- The technical aspects of cryptanalysis was nicely explained, the book was well-written and exciting. It had everything a good novel could ask for, romance, gangsters, hunted Nazis, espionage, villians and a heroine.
- One of our members was able to decipher Fagone’s dedication at the end of the book!
- Robert and Michelle King, creators of “The Good Wife” and “The Good Fight,” have optioned the television rights to the book about the life of Elizabeth Smith Friedman. Not sure if this is going to be a 3 part mini-series or a television series. Either way we can look forward to it!