THE ULTRA-MAGIC DEALS by Bradley F. Smith

THE ULTRA-MAGIC DEALS

And the Most Secret Special Relationship, 1940-1946
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Much has been written (e.g., David Kahn's Seizing the Enigma, 1991) about the high-grade intelligence (dubbed ``Ultra'' and ``Magic'') available to the Allies during WW II as a result of the UK's ability to read many of Nazi Germany's ciphers and of America's success in cracking Japanese codes. Comparatively less attention has been paid to the lengthy and difficult negotiations that preceded the sharing of information gained from Axis message traffic. Drawing on declassified archival sources, Smith (The Shadow Warriors, 1983, etc.) bridges this gap with an engrossing account of how Whitehall and Washington finally consented to pool their cryptoanalytic resources to defeat common enemies. Noting that most countries spy on friends as well as foes, Smith first focuses on the security concerns and obstacles that long delayed a comprehensive accord. While Great Britain had managed to centralize its code-breaking operations between the wars, US efforts, the author points out, were an uncoordinated hodgepodge marked by intense, distrustful rivalry among the Army's Signal Corps, the FBI, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the State Department, and other agencies. By May 1943, however, necessity, patience, and confidence engendered by working relationships yielded the so-called ERUSA agreement that set the stage for unprecedented cooperation during the war's final 30 months--and for an enduring productive partnership. Given the secrecy surrounding any nation's code and cipher activities, the author is unable to pinpoint just when in 1947 a permanent Anglo-American pact was concluded (in response to fears about USSR ambitions). At the close, though, he leaves little doubt that the entente inspired by the sharing of WW II intelligence contributed as much to the winning of the cold war as to victory in Europe and the Pacific. An illuminating rundown on a largely ignored, albeit important, chapter in diplomatic and military history. (One map.)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-89141-483-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Presidio/Random
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1992