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The NYT reports today on a British best-selling novel about
breaking the Enigma codes, published this month in the US:
Enigma, by Robert Harris, Random House.
Harris interviewed many of the people who worked at
Bletchley Park, and, most challenging, had to wrestle
with complex mathematics to explain how the codes were
broken ... by an elite comprised of an eccentric band of
British and refugee intellectuals, aided by young women
carefully picked from upper-class British families.
So, Mr. Harris was asked, is the book a celebration of
British amateurism? "There's a bit of that," he
conceded. "Just as the British benefited from that
tradition, the Germans were undone by the ruthless
military efficiency, which made it easier to read their
messages. The idea of brains taking on brute strength
does have a certain romantic appeal."
More than one reviewer said Harris was a thriller writer
in the British tradition of Eric Ambler, Len Deighton,
John Le Carre and John Buchan. "Harris has fashioned a
story that is as humane, intelligent and gripping as
documentary fiction can get, the critic Anthony Quinn
wrote in The Financial Times. This is a story of
intelligence, romance, twisted logic and necessary
compromise," Peter Millar wrote in The Times of London,
adding that it was "altogether top-class stuff."