Between Silk and Cyanide: A Code Maker's War, 1941-45 (Espionage)

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9780750948357: Between Silk and Cyanide: A Code Maker's War, 1941-45 (Espionage)
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In 1942, with a black-market chicken under his arm, Leo Marks left his father's famous bookshop, 84 Charing Cross Road, and went to war. He was twenty-two and a Cryptographer of genius. In Between Silk and Cyanide, his critically acclaimed account of his time in SOE, Marks tells how he revolutionised the code-making techniques of the Allies, trained some of the most famous agents dropped into France including Violette Szabo and 'the White Rabbit', and why he wrote haunting verse including his 'The Life that I have' poem. He reveals for the first time the disastrous dimensions of the code war between SOE and the Germans in Holland; how the Germans were fooled into thinking a Secret Army was operating in the Fatherland itself, and how and why he broke General de Gaulle's secret code. Both thrilling and poignant, Marks's book is truly one of the last great Second World War memoirs.

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Review:

Twenty-three is awfully young to find yourself with the power of life and death...Leo Marks failed the examination to go and work on codes at Bletchley by being just too good and too much of a smart aleck. Instead, he was imposed on a not entirely willing Special Operations Executive (SOE) to teach coding to agents dropped into Europe and to decode the sometimes indecipherable messages they sent back at great risk to their lives. His speeches to his staff on the mortal danger of slowness or carelessness are classics of guilt-tripping. Absence of mistakes made him suspect that the Germans had captured SOE's Dutch agents--his youth and personality meant that his superiors were slow to believe him. In his spare time, he revolutionized cryptography by inventing one-time-only pads, and wrote poems for agents to use as keys--including the poem associated with Violette Szabo, "Odette".

This is a moving memoir of the agents like Odette and Noor Inayat Khan, whose fates we already know and whom he tried in vain to protect. This is a powerful memoir of war, responsibility and guilt; Marks, hitherto famous as screenwriter on Peeping Tom and son of the 84 Charing Cross Road family, has written a classic. --Roz Kaveney

Review:

Ken Ringle

"The Washington Post"

A welcome and powerfully affecting chapter of World War II history, and a very human story of the most clandestine and cerebral art of making war.



Richard Bernstein

"The New York Times"

An enthralling book, one full of an eccentric charm as well as fascinating, previously undisclosed details of the secret war waged in the occupied countries.



"The New York Times Book Review"

ÝA¨ spellbinding real-life thriller....A compelling insider's view to the shadow war: intrigue and treachery, double-dealing and deception, hope and despair, triumph and tragedy.



Martin Scorsese

A mesmerizing account of World War II as fought on the home front in Great Britain by the ingenious codemakers whose work determined the life and death of the Allied agents in occupied Europe. Leo Marks, a brilliant cryptographer, is a masterful and passionate storyteller. I was immediately swept into his secret world of codes and "undecipherables," trying at times (without success) to unravel the puzzles myself, and found it difficult to put down the book until the drama had come to an end.



"The New York Times Book Review"

[A] spellbinding real-life thriller....A compelling insider's view to the shadow war: intrigue and treachery, double-dealing and deception, hope and despair, triumph and tragedy.



David Kahn author of "The Codebreakers" Many are the books about codebreaking. Few, if any, exist about codemaking, even though it is more important to keep one's own secrets than to learn the enemy's. Leo Marks has written one at last -- and one that is illuminating, gripping, and very human.

Martin Scorsese "Between Silk and Cyanide" is a mesmerizing account of World War II as fought on the home front in Great Britain by the ingenious codemakers whose work determined the life and death of the Allied agents in occupied Europe. Leo Marks, a brilliant cryptographer, is a masterful and passionate storyteller. I was immediately swept into his secret world of codes and "undecipherables," trying at times (without success) to unravel the puzzles myself, and found it difficult to put down the book until the drama had come to an end.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780684867809: "Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941 to 1945 "

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  068486780X ISBN 13:  9780684867809
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2000
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9780684864228: Between Silk and Cyanide: a Codemaker's War, 1941-1945

The Fr..., 1999
Hardcover

9780002559447: Between Silk and Cyanide : The Story of SOE's Code War

Harper..., 1998
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9780007100392: Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker’s War 1941–1945

Harper..., 2000
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9780006530633: Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker’s War 1941–1945

Harper..., 1999
Softcover

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