Codebreakers chapter 1: One Day of Magic

The first chapter of this book is not like the others. Its purpose is to whet the user’s appetite for the field of cryptography by telling the story of the role of the United States’ code breaking efforts before the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941.

I won’t say much more about this chapter because it was more focused on advancing the story than on explaining the technical details involved. I will explain this though: Magic is the code word used to refer to a series of enciphered Japanese intercepts that the US Army and Navy had been able to solve. Although the cryptanalysts did not prevent the attack, they “contributed enormously to the defeat of the enemy, greatly shortened the war and saved many thousands of lives” (page 67). The system they had in place is a strong indication that most wars are now won or lost, not land, but over the radio waves.

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