Format Hardcover
Publication Date 08/01/23
ISBN 9781639364343
Trim Size / Pages 6 x 9 in / 400

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The Hidden History of Code-Breaking

The Secret World of Cyphers, Uncrackable Codes, and Elusive Encryptions

Sinclair McKay

A fascinating exploration of the uncrackable codes and secret cyphers that helped win wars, spark revolutions and change the faces of nations.

There have been secret codes since before the Old Testament, and there were secret codes in the Old Testament, too. Almost as soon as writing was invented, so too were the devious means to hide messages and keep them under the wraps of secrecy.

In The Hidden History of Code Breaking, Sinclair McKay explores these uncrackable codes, secret cyphers and hidden messages from across time to tell a new history of a secret world. From the temples of Ancient Greece to the court of Elizabeth I; from antique manuscripts whose codes might hold prophecies of doom to the modern realm of quantum mechanics, we will see how a few concealed words could help to win wars, spark revolutions and even change the faces of great nations.

Here is the complete guide to the hidden world of codebreaking, with opportunities for you to see if you could have cracked some of the trickiest puzzles and lip-chewing codes ever created.

Sinclair McKay he is the London-based literary critic for the Telegraph and the Spectator and is the author of The Secret Life of Codebreakers and Bletchley Park Brainteasers. 

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Endorsements & Reviews

"McKay takes readers through history, from Julius Caesar’s coded communiqués to the Nazis’ formidable Enigma code, giving historical context about the codes’ necessities, with details about how they were both created and broken. For history buffs and puzzle meisters, [the book] will doubtless prove endlessly intriguing." Booklist
“McKay traces the increasingly sophisticated use and decryption of coded texts to wage and win wars, to woo lovers, and to conceal esoteric or scientific knowledge throughout the centuries. Each of the book’s entries paints a picture of how a particular cypher was invented, used, or broken and the personalities behind these codes. An accessible history of decryption with elements that will appeal to casual history buffs and solvers of word puzzles.” Library Journal
The Hidden History of Code-Breaking is a worthwhile introduction to the world of codes and ciphers that offers a glimpse into the fascinating realm of encryption and how codes have been used throughout history.” Science
Praise for The Secret Life of Codebreakers
“A portrait of one of the most remarkable brain factories the world has ever seen.”

Max Hastings, journalist and author, former editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph
"An eloquent tribute to a quite remarkable group of men and women, whose like we will not see again."
Mail On Sunday
“A stunning plunge into the social and political complexities surrounding the men and women who broke the Enigma code. A gripping read.” Chester Nez and Judith Schiess Avila, authors of Code Talker
“Re-create[s] the unique atmosphere of this extraordinary place… remarkable.” Daily Telegraph (London)
“This very readable and competent book captures well the extraordinary atmosphere of eccentrics working hard together in almost complete secrecy.” The Guardian