I've read a few books on codebreakers, but never codemakers. With Between Silk and Cyanide, Leo Marks has written a humorous, scathing, wonderfully visual book about his experiences with the British SOE during WWII. He takes an intense time, often remembered only by dates and deaths, and people it with the codemakers and breakers, officers, agents and others who wandered in and out of the corridors at Baker Street. Fascinating and entertaining.
In 1942, Leo Marks left his father's famous bookshop, 84 Charing Cross Road, and went off to fight the war. He was twenty-two. Soon recognized as a cryptographer of genius, he became head of communications at the Special Operations Executive (SOE), where he revolutionized the codemaking techniques of the Allies and trained some of the most famous agents dropped into occupied Europe, including "the White Rabbit" and Violette Szabo. As a top codemaker, Marks had a unique perspective on one of the most fascinating and, until now, little-known aspects of the Second World War. Writing with the narrative flair and vivid characterization of his famous screenplays, Marks gives free rein to his keen sense of the absurd and his wry wit, resulting in a thrilling and poignant memoir that celebrates individual courage and endeavor, without losing sight of the human cost and horror of war.
About the Author
Leo Marks is renowned both as a cryptographer and as a screenwriter. His most famous work, Peeping Tom, a terrifying psychological thriller, is a cult classic of 1960s cinema. His father, Benjamin Marks, was the founder and owner of the legendary London bookshop 84 Charing Cross Road.
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.
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.
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.
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.