The Woman Who Smashed Codes: Your new winter reading assignment

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I’ve never read such a gripping book about spies that opens with the hopeful words: “This is a love story.”

Over the course of its hundreds of pages, The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone is damned-near impossible to put down. The book has everything: thrills, chills, kills, love, crypto, and a hopeful sense that a nearly forgotten American genius, Elizebeth Smith Friedman, is finally being given her due.

In the book’s opening pages, Fagone, a journalist now at the San Francisco Chronicle, describes how he came upon a trove of Friedman’s papers in a Virginia library that contained not only technical notes, but “love letters. Letters to her kids written in code. Handwritten diaries. A partial, unpublished autobiography.”

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Ars TechnicaCyrus Farivar