The Secret Life of Bletchley Park : The History of the Wartime Codebreaking Centre by the Men and Women Who Were There, Paperback Book

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park : The History of the Wartime Codebreaking Centre by the Men and Women Who Were There Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


Bletchley Park was where one of the war's most famous - and crucial - achievements was made: the cracking of Germany's "Enigma" code in which its most important military communications were couched.

This country house in the Buckinghamshire countryside was home to Britain's most brilliant mathematical brains, like Alan Turing, and the scene of immense advances in technology - indeed, the birth of modern computing.

The military codes deciphered there were instrumental in turning both the Battle of the Atlantic and the war in North Africa.

But, though plenty has been written about the boffins, and the codebreaking, fictional and non-fiction - from Robert Harris and Ian McEwan to Andrew Hodges' biography of Turing - what of the thousands of men and women who lived and worked there during the war?

What was life like for them - an odd, secret territory between the civilian and the military?Sinclair McKay's book is the first history for the general reader of life at Bletchley Park, and an amazing compendium of memories from people now in their eighties - of skating on the frozen lake in the grounds (a depressed Angus Wilson, the novelist, once threw himself in) - of a youthful Roy Jenkins, useless at codebreaking, of the high jinks at nearby accommodation hostels - and of the implacable secrecy that meant girlfriend and boyfriend working in adjacent huts knew nothing about each other's work.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: British & Irish history
  • ISBN: 9781845136338



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

(BookCrossing, 10 December 2011)A really well done book on the code-breaking establishment, mixing chapters charting its historical progress with themed chapters on romance, recruitment, security breaches, etc. Much more the story of the people than of the equipment, and occasionally a little more “breathless” than non-fiction books I am accustomed to reading (of course a memo written in the 1940s is still in the archives today) and slipping into the odd typo, this is in general pitched well and very engaging. Having a few key characters from the general workers as well as the bosses popping up throughout the text give it a joined up sense of unity. Well worth reading, and it’s amazing, in this day and age, just how secret it was all kept, even when it didn’t really need to be any longer.

Review by

A fascinating insight into the largely unrecognised teams of workers who spent the war at Bletchley Park and barely mentioned it for thirty or more years afterwards, even to close family.

Review by

I read this just before visiting Bletchley Park in July. It gave me a good insight into life at the secret WWII code breaking establishment. Written in an easy style covering many aspects of history, personalities, secrecy technology and perseverance.<br/>

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