Book Details

Harper Collins Logo

The Woman Who Smashed Codes

A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies

Format:

About the Book

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, Elizebeth 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 page-turning popular history at its finest.

Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

“A powerful love story, a story of war, and a fascinating biography, The Woman Who Smashed Codes is a magnificent work of literary nonfiction that sheds light on an important hidden figure. You will devour this book.” —Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City  

“Jason Fagone’s stunning narrative unearths an intimate and unexpected history of code breaking. This remarkable tale reveals the fundamental role cryptology has played in our past, and the untold story of the pioneering woman behind its evolution. It is a treasure of a book.” —Nathalia Holt, New York Times bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us From Missiles to the Moon to Mars

“In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone rights a historical wrong, unshrouding an unsung heroine and revealing the love story at the root of the modern world’s spy games. But this book’s true revelation is the author’s talent: sure-handed, thrilling, and lyrical.” —Benjamin Wallace, author of The Billionaire’s Vinegar

“A bang-up research effort [and] an engaging resurrection of a significant player in the world of cryptology.” —Kirkus

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780062430489
  • ISBN 10: 0062430483
  • Imprint: Dey Street Books
  • On Sale: 09/26/2017
  • Pages: 352
  • List Price: 34.99 CAD
  • BISAC1: HISTORY / Social History
  • BISAC2: POLITICAL SCIENCE / Intelligence & Espionage
  • BISAC3: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Historical

The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone

The broadest selection of online bookstores. The links will take you to the web site's home page.

Other Booksellers

The broadest selection of online bookstores. The links will take you to the Web site's home page.

SELECT:

International Customers

If you are located outside Canada, the best way to order online is to choose from the following bookstores listed by region and country.

HarperCollins Reader

We created the HC Reader App to be a simple way to read our e-books. Our App is available for download on iOS and Android devices.

We strongly encourage using the HarperCollins reader application since it supports the type of file we are using. You may experience some technical difficulties using a different reader application.

Instructions

  1. You need a HarperCollins Account. If you purchase/have purchased an e-book from HarperCollins, this is your account login and password. If not, please click here to register.
  2. Download the HC Reader App on iOS or Android. Enter your HarperCollins account username and password. Please note that your username is an e-mail address.
  3. Download your e-book and enjoy!