The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone

“No code is ever completely solved, you know”.
—Elizebeth Smith Friedman
 
The women pioneers, Elizebeth Smith Friedman, a pioneer in U.S. cryptology, the first American woman cryptologist, the woman code breaker, the woman leader, the woman who put many drug dealers and mafias in jail, the woman who destroyed the Nazi spy network, the mother of NSA, and the heroine whom the history never gives credit to her.
After graduation, a major in English literature, she went to the Newberry Library in Chicago to apply for a job, knowing that this library poses the rarest version of Shakespeare’s work. She then was offered a job by a millionaire, George Fabyan, who believed that there’re secret codes hidden in Shakespeare’s plays. Elizebeth worked for Fabyan to decipher Shakespeare’s code then shortly after was sent to a position in the government to help interpret secret messages from the threats, because at that time, nobody knew how to do it. I’ll leave the spoiler from here because this is only the beginning of the book and the story of Elizebeth Friedman is one of the most remarkable stories in the history. I’ve learned about many ugly stories including the fact that J. Edgar Hoover was misogyny, he ordered Friedman and her team to run many important decipher operations, and always claimed her success as the accomplishment of the FBI, never mentioned her name nor gave credit to her team. Despite the struggle she had to deal with just because she’s a woman, she raised above the odds and created cryptoanalysis, trained them one by one and founded the most powerful decipher house in American history.
Just a little hiccup though, I would prefer to read her story from the perspectives base on fact solely. The author did a fantastic job on the research but I’m not so sure with his biography writing style mixed with his own expression. Terms such as, “she sounded like”, I believe, is not a good representation of good journalism. Instead of narrating the story Elizebeth Friedman, it was more of attacking something or defending her rights. The beginning of the book excited me but then I was consumed by too many opinions and this made me tired. I might be biased.
 
 
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