Code Girls Book Summary By Liza Mundy

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Code Girls (2017) is a fascinating, informative book that provides an inside look into the lives of the thousands of American women who worked as code breakers during World War II.

With over 20 interviews with surviving code breakers and recently declassified oral histories, author Liza Mundy skillfully brings to life their unique roles in America.

The book details their work in Washington, DC, and beyond while providing crucial intelligence that helped pave to success of the Allied war efforts.

Through these interviews and countless archived documents, readers are provided with a gripping narrative of the groundbreaking accomplishments these woman achieved through their dedication to breaking codes and keeping us safe.

Code Girls Book

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

Author(s): Liza Mundy

Rating: 4.6/5

Reading Time: 27 Minutes

Categories: History

Author Bio

Liza Mundy is a renowned journalist and author who is known for her outstanding work.

Her most notable book, The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family, was a New York Times bestseller.

She has been published in major publications like TIME, the Guardian, the New Republic, and Slate.

Prior to that she was a reporter for the Washington Post.

Currently she holds the title of senior fellow at the think tank New America, where she is an authority on women and work issues.

If anyone knows about female empowerment in this world, it would be Liza Mundy - and it's no wonder why her latest book "Code Girls" has become so popular!

Uncovering The Hidden Heroes Of World War Ii: The American Women Codebreakers Who Changed The Course Of History

 World War Ii

During World War II, a group of unsung heroines stepped up to serve their nation in a crucial way.

These women came from all backgrounds, but they had one thing in common: a determination to do their part and make a lasting contribution to the Allied victory.

These women were code breakers who served in Washington, DC and around the world.

They used ingenious methods to decipher enemy communication, solve complex puzzles and figure out encrypted messages.

Their work was so secret that few people ever even heard about it—and much of their story remains hidden today.

But through Code Girls by Liza Mundy, readers can get to know these remarkable women and learn more about their extraordinary accomplishments during the war effort.

Through this book we learn the tricks they used to break codes, how they formed critical military units, and how they helped lay the groundwork for successful D-Day landings.

Unlocking The Secrets Of Code Breaking: How Understanding Cryptography Has Helped The Us Win Wars

In the early 1920s, the United States lagged behind other countries such as France and England in code breaking– so much so that the US secretary of state even dismissed military intelligence’s minimal cipher bureau as unimaginable.

As times changed and more advanced cryptography was created, agencies began seeking out employees who were best equipped to take on the arduous task of decrypting codes.

As it happened, they tended to favor women for grueling and tedious jobs like this one.

The assumption was that women were better able to focus intensely over long periods of time than male counterparts, who were seen as smarter – but lacked staying power needed to work out puzzles money.

The truth is that successful codebreaking requires both mental acuity and patience – a quality all their own.

But without question, when agenices put out calls for cryptographers in times of war or hostile tensions, women rose up to prove themselves as worthy candidates for doing dangerous but necessary work.

Unsung Heroes: How Female Code-Breakers Changed The Course Of History

Before the United States entered WWII, its cryptanalytic force was made possible through the pioneering work of Elizebeth Smith Friedman and Agnes Meyer Driscoll.

Elizebeth began her journey in 1916 at Riverbank Laboratories in Illinois, where she was recruited to prove the theory that Sir Francis Bacon had written William Shakespeare’s works.

In 1917, when George Fabyan shifted his laboratory to serve as an asset to the US government during WWI, Elizebeth and her husband William Friedman were appointed as its code-breaking leaders.

And while William went on to become the army’s leading code maker and cryptanalyst, Elizebeth received acclaim for her work identifying criminals during Prohibition – which set a precedent for female code breakers in the years to come.

Meanwhile, Agnes Meyer Driscoll worked tirelessly during the 1920s and 1930s as a math teacher from Illinois taking part in Navy’s small cryptanalytic office in Washington DC.

Impressive accomplishments included cracking a Japanese fleet code with numbers instead of letters in under a year – enabling Americans to enter World War II with insights about Japanese internal communications.

These groundbreaking women linguists ultimately helped pave the way for US cryptanalytic force before WWII and created pathways for future generations of female code breakers alike.

Before Pearl Harbor, The Us Navy Recruited Female Code Breakers For Their Secretive Intelligence Program

Pearl Harbor

When Japan unexpectedly attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, it was clear that the US military needed to bolster its intelligence.

So, they began a search for patriotic women with a liberal arts education, skilled in foreign languages, science, and math who could be trained as code breakers.

In order to get the best recruits possible, the army and navy had to compete – each hoping to make the best hire.

The navy focused on recruiting from elite colleges while the army sought out recruits from small towns.

They even posted officers in public places like hotels in the South in an effort to reach potential code breakers further away from military installations.

The United States made a controversial decision in 1942 when they allowed women to enlist into military service, creating positions on teams such as WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) for the navy work and WAC (Women’s Army Corps) for army positions.

These brave women made up nearly 80 percent of domestic cryptography positions within the navy and 70 percent of those within the army.

The Extraordinary Freedom And Romance Enjoyed By The Government Girls Of Wwii Washington, Dc

The Code Girls of World War II marked a seismic shift in how women were perceived by society.

For the first time, thousands of women left their homes to join the workforce in Washington DC and take on the immense responsibility of code breaking – an undertaking that some considered “men’s work”.

These “government girls,” as they were referred by locals, had to face grueling seven-day shifts of up to 12 hours a day.

On top of that, they came with their own unique lifestyle: they lived in cramped dorms such as Arlington Farms but also found freedom through social events, exploring the city on their own or — for those lucky enough — travel across the country.

Their rare free time was sometimes spent partying with soldiers and sailors stationed nearby or writing letters to support morale back home.

Moreover, many of these girls found success and freedom beyond marriage due to the individual independence wartime provided them with – something which could have been severely limited if they hadn’t taken part in this work experience.

As one code girl, Dorothy “Dot” Braden put it: “We went from living under our parents’ thumbs to doing whatever we thought was fun.”

It’s no surprise then why these g-girls and their experiences have been revered for decades for pushing feminine boundaries and allowing future generations the opportunity to follow similar paths should they so choose.

American Women Helped Break Japan’S Complex Purple Encryption During World War Ii

Genevieve Grotjan was a woman who wanted to be a math professor and worked as a civilian army code breaker during the World War II.

Though it wasn’t perfect, she found success.

She figured out what eluded her male colleagues, an accomplishment that enabled the Allies to recreate the Purple machine and listen to Japanese communications on Purple for the duration of the war.

Grotjan’s team employed various techniques when deciphering messages from Tokyo.

They used “cribbing,” which involved using certain words that had been broken or guessed to act as starting points for deciphering other messages.

In addition, they studied machines the Japanese could have drawn upon for the Purple design, and Friedman passed on tips about how if you looked at any code for long enough it could be broken since ciphering machines use rotors and wheels with patterns that will eventually repeat themselves.

However, none of these strategies worked until Genevieve Grotjan came along and found where the pattern repeated.

On September 20th 1940 in the afternoon she approached Frank Rowlett with her worksheets in hand, having discovered something that no one else had before: with her patience and sharp eye she had cracked Japan’s Purple machine!

How A Supervision-Female Bond At Arlington Hall Help Turn The Tide Of World War Ii

World War Ii

At Arlington Hall, the g-girls of WWII faced sexism from their male counterparts, but they worked together to push through the hierarchy and crack codes with immense success.

One of them, Ann Caracristi – or Annie – was only 23 when she joined in 1942.

Considering her English degree and engineering talent, Wilma Berryman promoted Annie to lead a research unit at Arlington Hall.

The two were determined to break the Japanese Army’s code by looking into the addresses appended to messages within it.

And after finding a crib in their records and figuring out the additive 7250, Ann Caracristi pulled through an incredible task–the book-breaking–of reconstructing an entire codebook.

On April 7th, 1943, Arlington Hall cracked another major breakthrough: The Japanese transport system’s 2468 code which revealed shipping activities across Japansea.

This paved way for even more accomplishments such as astoundingly fast decoding of aviation codes and number of casualties in battles –all leading up to an Allied victory in the Pacific!

By working together, g-girls helped sink 43 Japanese ships and damage 22 more betweenNovember 1943 alone with their mail sorting abilities cumulated while decoding those multiple messages sent through Japanese Army radio circuits!

Code Girls’ Work Decoding Japanese And German Ciphers Paved The Way For D-Day Victory

It behooves us to remember the immense and crucial contributions of the Code Girls who broke and wrote codes in support of the largest seaborne invasion in history-the D-Day landing in Normandy.

These women, who formed part of the US Army and Navy WAVES, helped build over 100 “bombe” machines for deciphering messages intercepted from German Enigma cipher machines.

Their knowledge helped shaped much of the Allied Forces planning for D-Day; giving them invaluable intelligence on how best to coordinate their efforts on land.

Moreover, by intercepting correspondences from Japanese Diplomats, they were able to ascertain which parts of the coasted along occupied France were less secure, enabling better and more successful tactical execution .

To guarantee the element of surprise, a program called Operation Bodyguard was implemented whereby coded messages about where and when this invasion would take place were generated using an American SIGABA Machine.

In addition to their work with bombe machines, these brave women had also developed expertise in code writing while monitoring security of America’s own cryptographic systems – all essential skills needed for carrying out such a diplomatic stunt.

Thanks to their hard work and dedication, an attack that could have cost millions if lost turned into a success that saved 16500 Allied lives.

Today as we remember this important event let us also remember our unsung heroes – The Code Girls!

Code Girls Played A Key Role In Wartime Victory As They Awaited The End Of Wwii


The Code Girls of Arlington Hall not only had the difficult task of deciphering coded messages sent by Japan during World War II, but they were also privy to both the horrors and the victories of the war.

For instance, on many occasions, they read heartbreaking details about casualties that deeply affected them.

This was especially true when they discovered that enlisted husbands, brothers and even boyfriends were amongst those affected.

Fran Steen’s situation was particularly difficult as she read a message warning that her brother Egil’s navy destroyer would be targeted by Japanese kamikazes.

Though Fran had notified the Navy Department in advance and plea to take action, her brother was still injured during the attack – yet fortunately he survived it with surprisingly few injuries.

With this terrible news came some peace too – after months of intense waiting, the code girls were amongst the first Americans to learn when the war was over due to their translation skills.

Even Virginia Aderholdt – a lieutenant whose main duty involed deciphering diplomatic messages sworn in order for Japan to surrender – found joy in reading about Japanese diplomats becoming increasingly discouraged by US air raids on August 14, 1945.

The Forgotten Women Who Helped Win World War Ii – An Inspiring Story Of Secrecy, Hard Work And Dedication

After the war, the code girls who served at Arlington Hall were thanked for their service and left to pursue different careers.

Many were denied entry into further education opportunities as a result of the secrecy surrounding their work, making it difficult to disclose their contribution made during the war efforts.

Some code girls had no choice but to move on to new government positions in the National Security Agency (NSA).

For example, Ann Caracristi became the first woman to serve as the NSA’s deputy director; however this was only open to a limited number of women.

The reality for most was that it was hard for them to find meaningful careers outside of government service due to sexism.

Elizabeth Bigelow, a recruit in the WAVES program, was even rejected from three architecture schools because they said they reserved spots exclusively for veterans of Armed Forces.

Ultimately, she decided to marry and start a family instead.

What’s worse is that it lasted all the way up until very recently in 2017; when these women were still alive and finally allowed bythe NSA to speak out about their contributions during WWII.

But unfortunately by this time most had never even uttered words related to code-breaking outside of Arlington Hall before – including Virginia Dot Braden herself.

Wrap Up

The Code Girls by Liza Mundy serves as a final summary of the incredible story of hundreds of women who worked during World War II to break code and play a crucial role in the Allied war effort.

These female code-breakers, who were denied access to high-level careers before the war, secretly helped turn the tide of the war and ultimately save thousands of lives.

Their work was kept secret for decades but with this book, their efforts have been remembered and recognized for their invaluable contribution.

This powerful story serves us an important reminder that even when opportunities are limited or denied, there is always room for ingenuity and compassion which can lead to great accomplishments and advancements.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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