Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II (Hardcover)

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“There is so much arguing these days over the existence of women in STEM fields and whether they should be allowed to be there. 'Oh honey,' says Code Girls, wrapping an arm around your shoulder, 'we never left.' In riveting prose, Mundy shows the presence of these women from the very beginning -and then how they were almost forcibly forgotten after the war was over. Women who once had only a life of school-teaching to look forward to (even with a PhD) became people who saved lives and sunk ships. This book exists to remind us that women have always been in these stories, even if they're not shown.”
— Alice Ahn, Water Street Books, Exeter, NH


The award-winning national bestseller about the American women who secretly served as codebreakers during World War II--a "prodigiously researched and engrossing" (New York Times) book that "shines a light on a hidden chapter of American history" (Denver Post).

Recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy from small towns and elite colleges, more than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them. A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history; now, through dazzling research and interviews with surviving code girls, bestselling author Liza Mundy brings to life this riveting and vital story of American courage, service, and scientific accomplishment.

About the Author

Liza Mundy is the New York Times bestselling author of The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family and Michelle: A Biography. She has worked as a reporter at the Washington Post and contributed to numerous publications including The Atlantic, TIME, The New Republic, Slate, Mother Jones, and The Guardian. She is a frequent commentator on countless prominent national television, radio, and online news outlets and has positioned herself at the prestigious New America Foundation as one of the nation's foremost experts on women and work issues.

Praise For…

"Irresistible.... We
owe Mundy gratitude for rescuing these hidden figures from obscurity. Even more
valuable is her challenge to the myth of the eccentric, inspired, solitary male
genius, like Alan Turing."—Elaine Showalter, Washington Post

"Code Girls...finally gives due to the
courageous women who worked in the wartime intelligence community."—

"Liza Mundy's Code
reveals one of World War II's last remaining secrets: the true tale
of the young American women who helped shorten the war and saved thousands of
lives by breaking the codes of the German and Japanese armed forces. But it's
also a superbly researched and stirringly written social history of a pivotal
chapter in the struggle for women's rights, told through the powerful and
poignant stories of the individuals involved. In exploring the vast, obscure,
and makeshift offices of wartime Washington where these women performed
seemingly impossible deeds, Mundy has discovered a birthplace of modern
America."—Glenn Frankel, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of High Noon

"Code Girls is
a riveting account of the thousands of young coeds who flooded into Washington
to help America win World War II. Liza Mundy has written a thrilling
page-turner that illuminates the patriotism, rivalry, and sexism of the
code-breakers' world."—Lynn Povich, author of The Good Girls Revolt

"Code Girls
is an extraordinary book by an extraordinary author. Liza Mundy's portraits of
World War II codebreakers are so skillfully and vividly drawn that I felt as if
I were right there with them--mastering ciphers, outwitting the Japanese army,
sinking ships, breaking hearts, and even accidentally insulting Eleanor
Roosevelt. I am an evangelist for this book: You must read it."—Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City and Liar, Temptress, Solider, Spy

"Code Girls
reveals a hidden army of female cryptographers, whose work played a crucial
role in ending World War II. With clarity and insight, Mundy exposes the
intertwined narratives of the women who broke codes and the burgeoning field of
military intelligence in the 1940s. I cannot
overstate the importance of this book; Mundy has rescued a piece of forgotten
history, and given these American heroes the recognition they deserve."—Nathalia Holt, New York Times bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls

"Code Girls is
not just a great slice of history--one that would have been lost to us without
Liza's storytelling and the work of some heroic archivists--but a story
relevant to every discussion we have now about America's security agencies and
how they came to be. I am delighted readers will finally know about these
pioneering women and their incredible contributions to America."—Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana and Ashley's War

"Mundy is a fine storyteller.... A sleek, compelling
narrative.... The book is a winner. Her descriptions of codes and ciphers, how
they worked and how they were broken, are remarkably clear and accessible. A
well-researched, compellingly written, crucial addition to the literature of
American involvement in World War II."—Kirkus (starred review)

"Similar to Nathalia Holt's The Rise of the Rocket Girls and Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures, this is indispensable and fascinating history. Highly
recommended for all readers."—Library Journal (starred review)

"Mundy's fascinating book suggests that [the
Code Girls'] influence did play a role in defining modern Washington and
challenging gender roles--changes that still matter 75 years later."—Washingtonian

"Fascinating.... Addictively readable.... [Mundy] displays
a gift for creating both human portraits and intensely satisfying scenes."—Boston Globe

"Like Hidden Figures, this well-crafted book reveals a remarkable slice of unacknowledged U.S. history.... Captivating."—The Christian Science Monitor

"Extraordinary.... Mundy's book is expansive and
precise. It's anecdotal enough to make it an entertaining read for the
layperson, and there's plenty of technical detail to interest the crypto-nerd."—Houston Chronicle

"Salvaging this essential piece of American military
history from certain obscurity, Mundy's painstaking and dedicated research
produces an eye-opening glimpse into a crucial aspect of U.S. military
operations and pays overdue homage to neglected heroines of WWII. Fans of Hidden
(2016) and its exposé of unsung talent will revel in Mundy's
equally captivating portraits of women of sacrifice, initiative, and
dedication."—Booklist (starred review)

"An absorbing portrait of not only these marvelous, brilliant,
hard-working women, but of the era just before, during, and after WWII in the
United States. It was intriguing to read an account of what it was like to live
in the country during a time when every citizen contributed to the war effort
in very tangible ways."—Book Browse

"Astonishing.... Mundy, who mined US National Security
Agency archives and interviewed survivors for the book, joins authors such as
Margot Lee Shetterly and Nathalia Holt in giving the women behind great
twentieth-century scientific endeavors their due."—Nature

"Mundy unveils the untold story of a very important part of American History that otherwise would have been kept secret."—Miami Herald

"Fans of Hidden Figures .... will love this
true story of the women who cracked German and Japanese military code during
World War II."—Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A-)

"The book not only shines a light on a hidden chapter
of American history, it also tells the kind of story of courage and
determination that makes you want to work harder and be better."—Denver Post

"Women who helped bring victory achieve
visibility, at last, in this history."—Military Times

"Code Girls
is about giving the code breakers the glory and gratitude to which they
are entitled. Telling their individual narratives and their story as a
whole, in all its tragedy, heartbreak, jubilation, and success, is
Mundy's way of thanking them for their service.... Because of Mundy's
unearthing of their stories, they are getting more appreciation than
they ever got at the time"—Washington City Paper

"Liza Mundy tells these remarkable women's
individual stories, intertwined with the broad historical narrative of
how military intelligence evolved during this time. In a clear, braided
narrative, she reveals how these codebreakers broke both codes and new
ground--and why it's high time they were recognized for their

"A splendid writer and an impressive scholar,
Mundy tracked down and interviewed more than twenty surviving 'code girls,'
trawled hundreds of boxes containing archival documents, and successfully
petitioned for the declassification of more than a dozen oral histories. Out of
these puzzle pieces she constructs a masterly portrait of the brilliant,
unheralded women--women with names like Blanche and Edith and Dot--who were
recruited into lives they never could have imagined, lives believed to have
saved incalculable other lives by bringing the war to a sooner end.... A
thoroughly wonderful read."—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
Product Details
ISBN: 9780316352536
ISBN-10: 0316352535
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication Date: October 10th, 2017
Pages: 432
Language: English
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