Code Warriors: NSA’s Codebreakers and the Secret Intelligence War Against the Soviet Union — Stephen Budiansky
“The National Security Agency was born out of the legendary codebreaking programs of World War II that cracked the famed Enigma machine and other German and Japanese codes, thereby turning the tide of Allied victory. In the postwar years, as the United States developed a new enemy in the Soviet Union, our intelligence community found itself targeting not soldiers on the battlefield, but suspected spies, foreign leaders, and even American citizens.”
Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, NSA played a vital, often fraught and controversial role in the major events of the Cold War, from the Korean War to the Cuban Missile Crisis to Vietnam and beyond.
In Code Warriors, Stephen Budiansky—a longtime expert in cryptology—tells the fascinating story of how NSA came to be, from its roots in World War II through the fall of the Berlin Wall. Along the way, he guides us through the fascinating challenges faced by cryptanalysts, and how they broke some of the most complicated codes of the twentieth century. With access to new documents, Budiansky shows where the agency succeeded and failed during the Cold War, but his account also offers crucial perspective for assessing NSA today in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations. Budiansky shows how NSA’s obsession with recording every bit of data and decoding every signal is far from a new development; throughout its history the depth and breadth of the agency’s reach has resulted in both remarkable successes and destructive failures.
Featuring a series of appendixes that explain the technical details of Soviet codes and how they were broken, this is a rich and riveting history of the underbelly of the Cold War, and an essential and timely read for all who seek to understand the origins of the modern NSA.
Stephen Budiansky grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts, and graduated from Lexington High School. He received a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Yale University in 1978 and a master of science degree in applied mathematics from Harvard the following year. From 1979 to 1982 he was a magazine editor and radio producer at the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C.; from 1982 to 1985 he was Washington correspondent and then Washington editor of the scientific journal Nature. In 1985–86 he was a Congressional Fellow at the U.S. Congress’s Office of Technology Assessment, where he co-authored a study of advanced conventional weapons technology. In 1986 he joined the staff of U.S. News & World Report where he worked for the next twelve years in a variety of writing and editing positions, including national security correspondent, foreign editor, and deputy editor.
He is a member of the editorial board of Cryptologia, the scholarly journal of cryptology and intelligence history, and is on the American Heritage Dictionary’s Usage Panel.