By Jason Fagone
Dey St, 2017, 444 pages, Non-Fiction
Elizebeth Smith and William Friedman were a power couple in the world of cryptology. The two made major strides in the field before the invention of the computer. Today, Friedman’s work for the FBI during World War II is more recognized, and gets more attention. But while Friedman was solving Japanese codes, writing cryptology manuals, and presenting his findings at cryptology conferences, his wife, Elizebeth Smith, worked for the Coast Guard and focused on the codes of the Nazi spy rings based in South America.
This book covering the work of both Friedman and Smith was fascinating, and it was even more remarkable to me because it’s true. As someone who lightly dabbles in puzzles like cryptograms, crosswords, and Sudoku, it was interesting to see just how much science is involved in really complex puzzles. This was also an interesting look at the rise of Herbert Hoover and the formation of the FBI. Those who enjoyed Alan Turning: The Engima, the movie The Imitation Game, or books about history, spies and puzzles will enjoy this book.