Title: The Secret Life of Bletchley Park
Author: Sinclair McKay
Page Count/Review Word Count: 346
I picked this book up when I saw it going cheap in a charity shop, and I’m very glad that I did. I’ve always been fascinated by the history of Bletchley Park, and I’m fortunate enough to have been able to visit it with my mum.
This book does pretty much everything that it sets out to do. It’s kind of like a cross between a tell all and a detailed account of what life was like at Bletchley during the Second World War. There’s some super fascinating stuff here, and what’s particularly cool is that McKay quotes many of the key people in their own words.
He also quotes Andrew Hodges a lot, the guy who wrote the official biography of Alan Turing, which I happen to have already read. That’s clearly one of McKay’s primary sources, but then you can’t tell the story of Bletchley Park without also telling the story of Alan Turing.
And even despite that, it never felt tedious to read, and I was kind of surprised by that. I’ve had this on my TBR shelves for a while now, but I kept on finding reasons to put it off. I didn’t want it to be my main book because I was worried that I’d get bored, and that didn’t happen.
Instead, we have a highly readable account of what life was like at Bletchley Park that takes us through the war years with remarkable clarity. When it comes to cryptography and the technology that was used, it’s not always easy to follow what’s happening because of how technical it can get. McKay makes it easy to follow along, and that’s a credit to his writing.
Then we have the photography that’s also included and which helps us to envisage the people and the places that are written about here. It’s not exactly necessary, but it is a nice little touch. Good stuff!
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