When the United States entered World War II, it quickly became clear that, in order to win the war, the military must break enemy code.
With so many men serving as soldiers, smart women were called upon to join this secret effort. Initially, upper-level female college students were invited to apply. As the need for codebreakers grew, schoolteachers, especially those skilled in mathematics and sciences, were also called upon. The work was top secret. For many participants, these jobs offered opportunities that far surpassed their culturally circumscribed expectations, since young white women were, at the time, mostly viewed as destined for lifelong roles of wives and mothers. While the text acknowledges the existence of the Army’s segregated, black codebreaking unit, it focuses on the work of the white women. In this adaptation of Mundy’s book for adult readers, the text alternates between descriptions of the progress of the war and the lives of a few of the codebreakers. Sidebars offer additional information, but much of it is later repeated in the narrative. Well-integrated black-and-white period photographs (the adult version’s are presented in one sheaf of plates) and the additions of a timeline, glossary, and further reading in the backmatter round out this adaptation.
It’s an entertaining presentation on a fascinating topic, but given its length, it doesn’t extend the audience too much beyond what its original could expect to reach. (timeline, glossary, bibliography, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)