Recent Events

Thursday 14 June 2018

‘The Cypher Bureau’ by Eilidh McGinness

Published by The Book Guild,
28 March 2018. 
ISBN 978-1-912362-22-6

Anyone who has read Robert Harris’s Enigma or anything else connected to Bletchley Park in WW2 would recognise the code breaking described here.  This is, however, a book about the Polish team who originally decoded Enigma in 1932.  

The man whose life we follow from his childhood to his death is Marian Rejewski.  He joins a team of talented mathematicians at Poznan University who are inducted into Cryptography and asked to become secret code breakers.   The story is very convincingly it shows the travails of this team.  The author makes it clear that this is a work of fiction, but the details of events seem very accurate.  The men have to leave their families when the Germans invade and move from place to place in Europe and North Africa, always working on code breaking.  The intensity of their efforts in the face of enemy attacks and with the constant fear of betrayal is palpable.    It seems that the Germans never realised that their code had been broken but their constant updating of the system caused a huge amount of work for the decoders.  

I liked the way that the enormous Polish and French contribution to the decoding of Enigma messages was made clear.  Indeed, without their work there would have been a far greater loss of life in WW2.  You could describe this as a thriller with considerable technical input about decoding or as a biography of a Polish mathematician through WW2.   A coda to the book brings the story of the decoders up to date.   For anyone interested in this topic and in the hardships of WW2 this book is fascinating.
Jennifer S. Palmer 

Eilidh McGinness lives in France and started writing a few years ago. Eilidh is a fully qualified lawyer. She studied law at Aberdeen University and completed her training in Aberdeen-shire. Eilidh was born in Dingwall, Scotland. She is a member of the Bordeaux Writers Group, An Aquitaine Historical Society and The Franco-British Chamber of Commerce.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your summary. A fascinating and well written story about the Polish mathematicians who cracked the Enigma code in the second world war. Three cheers to Marian Rejeweski and his cohorts. The Cypher Bureau is a book full of tension, twists and turns. Eilidh McGinness is certainly an author to watch.