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Geniuses at War: Bletchley Park, Colossus, and the Dawn of the Digital Age

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From the author of The Pixar Touch and Love and Hate in Jamestown comes the dramatic, untold story of the brilliant team who built the world's first digital electronic computer at Bletchley Park, during a critical time in World War II. Decoding the communication of the Nazi high command was imperative for the success of the Allied invasion of From the author of The Pixar Touch and Love and Hate in Jamestown comes the dramatic, untold story of the brilliant team who built the world's first digital electronic computer at Bletchley Park, during a critical time in World War II. Decoding the communication of the Nazi high command was imperative for the success of the Allied invasion of Normandy. The Nazi missives were encrypted by the Tunny cipher, a code that was orders of magnitude more difficult to crack than the infamous Enigma code. But Tommy Flowers, a maverick English working-class engineer, devised the ingenious, daring, and controversial plan to build a machine that could think at breathtaking speed and break the code in nearly real time. Together with the pioneering mathematician Max Newman and Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing, Flowers and his team produced--against the odds, the clock, and a resistant leadership--Colossus, the world's first digital electronic computer, the machine that would help bring the war to an end. With fascinating detail and illuminating insight, David A. Price's Geniuses at War tells, for the first time, the mesmerizing story of the great minds behind Colossus, and chronicles their remarkable feats of engineering genius that ushered in the dawn of the digital age.


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From the author of The Pixar Touch and Love and Hate in Jamestown comes the dramatic, untold story of the brilliant team who built the world's first digital electronic computer at Bletchley Park, during a critical time in World War II. Decoding the communication of the Nazi high command was imperative for the success of the Allied invasion of From the author of The Pixar Touch and Love and Hate in Jamestown comes the dramatic, untold story of the brilliant team who built the world's first digital electronic computer at Bletchley Park, during a critical time in World War II. Decoding the communication of the Nazi high command was imperative for the success of the Allied invasion of Normandy. The Nazi missives were encrypted by the Tunny cipher, a code that was orders of magnitude more difficult to crack than the infamous Enigma code. But Tommy Flowers, a maverick English working-class engineer, devised the ingenious, daring, and controversial plan to build a machine that could think at breathtaking speed and break the code in nearly real time. Together with the pioneering mathematician Max Newman and Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing, Flowers and his team produced--against the odds, the clock, and a resistant leadership--Colossus, the world's first digital electronic computer, the machine that would help bring the war to an end. With fascinating detail and illuminating insight, David A. Price's Geniuses at War tells, for the first time, the mesmerizing story of the great minds behind Colossus, and chronicles their remarkable feats of engineering genius that ushered in the dawn of the digital age.

30 review for Geniuses at War: Bletchley Park, Colossus, and the Dawn of the Digital Age

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Although the author's explanations of code breaking methods and the early ideas for a "thinking" computer were hard for me to understand, that only increased my admiration for the brilliant and often eccentric folks who worked in secrecy at Bletchley Park during WWII to help defeat Nazi Germany. Although the author's explanations of code breaking methods and the early ideas for a "thinking" computer were hard for me to understand, that only increased my admiration for the brilliant and often eccentric folks who worked in secrecy at Bletchley Park during WWII to help defeat Nazi Germany.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael Martz

    I don't spend much time in the non-fiction world and will only pick up a book if it's focused on something in which I'm truly interested. "Geniuses at War" checks a couple boxes there, WWII and computers, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm glad I did. It's a neat little tome that covers a part of the war that nobody really knew about until now. Many people in the world of computers are familiar with Alan Turing's work and thoughts at the dawn of creation of computers. They may also know of his I don't spend much time in the non-fiction world and will only pick up a book if it's focused on something in which I'm truly interested. "Geniuses at War" checks a couple boxes there, WWII and computers, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm glad I did. It's a neat little tome that covers a part of the war that nobody really knew about until now. Many people in the world of computers are familiar with Alan Turing's work and thoughts at the dawn of creation of computers. They may also know of his involvement in the cracking of the code of Germany's Enigma encryption process during the war, which allowed the Brits to read German messaging and saved literally thousands of lives. Geniuses at War is the story of how Turing's work was leveraged by a small group at Bletchley Park to design the first digital computer, Colossus, which decrypted messages between German officers. It's an amazing story of brilliant, flawed people doing incredible things under unbelievable pressure to create something the world had never seen before. Due to the need for secrecy about the project and the possibility of utilizing its product in the future, the entire effort was cloaked in total secrecy by the hundreds of people who ended up working on it until fairly recently, which is pretty sad in that what they accomplished was truly heroic and they deserved public recognition and adulation. Geniuses at War is a bit short on some details but a bit long on others (I didn't really want to know all that much about decryption....). It's a concise, very readable story of an extremely crucial innovation by some brilliant folks that shortened WWII.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Hogan

    Finished Geniuses at War: Bletchley Park, Colossus, and the Dawn of the Digital Age by David A. Price. This is not the first book I’ve read about the crypto analysis work done at Bletchley Park breaking WW2 German and Japanese war communications but it is one of the best in setting the context of the work and it’s transition to modern computing. I learned that many of the secrets of the work were closely held until well into the twenty first century. The British public never knew that Alan Turin Finished Geniuses at War: Bletchley Park, Colossus, and the Dawn of the Digital Age by David A. Price. This is not the first book I’ve read about the crypto analysis work done at Bletchley Park breaking WW2 German and Japanese war communications but it is one of the best in setting the context of the work and it’s transition to modern computing. I learned that many of the secrets of the work were closely held until well into the twenty first century. The British public never knew that Alan Turing, the brilliant British mathematician whose team broke the German Enigma codes and was convicted of indecency for homosexuality in the 50’s was a hero for his work. He later committed suicide.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pbloom

    The story of the Enigma codebreakers and the impact they had on WW2 has been well told many times. This book was a pleasant surprise because it focused on other code breaking triumphs by the British at Bletchley Park. There was a lot of material that I wasn't already familiar with and I appreciated the technical detail. The background stories of some of the lesser known, but vitally important participants, was also more interesting than I expected. If you are interested in the history of cryptog The story of the Enigma codebreakers and the impact they had on WW2 has been well told many times. This book was a pleasant surprise because it focused on other code breaking triumphs by the British at Bletchley Park. There was a lot of material that I wasn't already familiar with and I appreciated the technical detail. The background stories of some of the lesser known, but vitally important participants, was also more interesting than I expected. If you are interested in the history of cryptography and/or a survey with some technical detail regarding the wide ranging activities at Bletchley Park then you will be glad you read this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Loren Picard

    A nice corrective on the narrative that the U.S. won the war for the Allies. The U.S. definitely was key, but without the British ability to decrypt messages electronically the war could have swung towards the Axis powers. Also, the British invented the first electronic computing machine years before the U.S. came out with theirs. Because of the secrecy around the British electronic war effort this did not come out until years later. Also, the book puts Alan Turing into proper context and gives A nice corrective on the narrative that the U.S. won the war for the Allies. The U.S. definitely was key, but without the British ability to decrypt messages electronically the war could have swung towards the Axis powers. Also, the British invented the first electronic computing machine years before the U.S. came out with theirs. Because of the secrecy around the British electronic war effort this did not come out until years later. Also, the book puts Alan Turing into proper context and gives a more realistic view of his contribution than pop culture movies portray.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Al Menaster

    Pretty good. Summary of various projects breaking the German's codes in WWII. One was essentially the first computer. Pretty good. Summary of various projects breaking the German's codes in WWII. One was essentially the first computer.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Great coverage of the code-breaking efforts at Bletchley and also some of the innovative minds that eventually brought us our little smart phones that we take for granted today.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hana Faber

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carol Kosse

  10. 4 out of 5

    William A. DePalo

  11. 4 out of 5

    Fred Henry

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jim Higgins

  13. 5 out of 5

    Web Barr

  14. 4 out of 5

    Thomas J Warnagiris

  15. 4 out of 5

    Liz

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lisa B

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ross

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Scott

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ed

  20. 5 out of 5

    Leila

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jodie

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  24. 4 out of 5

    Vincent Badolato

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Hayden

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pat Donlin

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bert

  28. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Finley

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris Street

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sheila Rader

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