A sweeping, in-depth history of NSA, whose famous "cult of silence" has left the agency shrouded in mystery for decades.
The National Security Agency was born out of the legendary codebreaking programs of World War II that cracked the famed Enigma machine and other German and Japanese codes, thereby turning the tide of Allied victory. In the postwar years, as the United States developed a new enemy in the Soviet Union, our intelligence community found itself targeting not soldiers on the battlefield, but suspected spies, foreign leaders, and even American citizens. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, NSA played a vital, often fraught and controversial role in the major events of the Cold War, from the Korean War to the Cuban Missile Crisis to Vietnam and beyond.
In Code Warriors, Stephen Budiansky - a longtime expert in cryptology - tells the fascinating story of how NSA came to be, from its roots in World War II through the fall of the Berlin Wall. Along the way, he guides us through the fascinating challenges faced by cryptanalysts, and how they broke some of the most complicated codes of the 20th century. With access to new documents, Budiansky shows where the agency succeeded and failed during the Cold War, but his account also offers crucial perspective for assessing NSA today in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations. Budiansky shows how NSA's obsession with recording every bit of data and decoding every signal is far from a new development; throughout its history the depth and breadth of the agency's reach has resulted in both remarkable successes and destructive failures.
Featuring a series of appendixes that explain the technical details of Soviet codes and how they were broken, this is a rich and riveting history of the underbelly of the Cold War, and an essential and timely read for all who seek to understand the origins of the modern NSA.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.
"The dysfunctions and overreach of the total surveillance state were present at its birth, according to this engrossing history of the National Security Administration. Journalist Budiansky traces the development of American signals intelligence...[and] is lucid in describing the science and art of breaking complex ciphers, which helped drive advances in electronics and computing.... Budiansky leavens the history and technology with colorful profiles of crytographers and spies; the results is a lively account of how today's information controversies emerged." (Publishers Weekly)
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- Karol Babioch
Interesting history about the NSA and the Cold War
It is really eye opening to read about the history of the NSA, its predecessors and intelligence in the Cold War in general. What was suprising even to me, although I'm already familiar with the topic, was how early on and with what sophistication the intelligence services were engaged in high-level spionage. Also the differences between the US, which tried to tackle the problem by technical means and was notoriously bad with actual spies, and the USSR, which was quite good on the people side of things, but was lacking behind the US, when it comes to technology. In hindsight all what the public learnt from the Snowden leaks is little surprising given what the NSA was already doing in the 40s/50s/60s. I would recommend this read to anyone interested in modern day espionage.