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Science in Peace and War: “The Bletchley Park Codebreakers: in their own words”: Joel Greenberg

Colour photograph of Joel Greenberg, sitting at a desk with a book open in front of him

01 Nov 2022

  • Start: 17:30
  • End: 19:30

Jock Colville Hall, Churchill College

Cover image of "The Bletchley Park Codebreakers"

In this event to launch the new book by Joel Greenberg, The Bletchley Park Codebreakers tells the story of Bletchley Park through countless letters written by key players to former colleagues and loved ones as the war unfolded. Having intercepted millions of German communications, the codebreakers had felt bound by the Official Secrets Act and said little about their wartime activities. Some who had stayed on at GCHQ after the war, were concerned that speaking out could jeopardise their pensions.

Over one hundred letters have been included in this volume and have either been recovered from family members or declassified by GCHQ. They reveal fresh information about the clandestine operation and disclose the true feelings of the participants at Bletchley Park in contrast to most early accounts which drew on official or sanctioned accounts.

The book thoroughly lays bare the day-to-day experiences at Bletchley Park and uncovers the operational and technical reasons behind the organisation’s successes and failures. Simultaneously intimate and comprehensive, it will interest historians, World War II researchers, and anyone who wants to learn the secrets of Britain’s signals intelligence effort.

Find out more about the Cambridge alumni at Bletchley.

The event will be followed by a drinks reception. Free and open to all, and no need to book.

Colour photograph of Joel Greenberg, sitting at a desk with a book open in front of him

Joel Greenberg

Joel Greenberg is a Canadian author and historian living in the UK who researches, writes and lectures about signals intelligence and its impact on two world wars. He has written the authorised biographies of two key figures in the story of signals intelligence, Gordon Welchman and Alastair Denniston as well as numerous papers and articles on the subject. The Welchman book, Gordon Welchman, Bletchley Park’s Architect of Ultra Intelligence, was the basis of a joint BBC/Smithsonian Network 2015 documentary about Welchman – The Forgotten Genius of Bletchley Park. The Denniston book, Alastair Denniston, Code-breaking from Room 40 to Berkeley Street and the Birth of GCHQ, is both a biography and an account of signals intelligence from its early development to the birth of GCHQ. Denniston was the first Head of GCHQ and the book was launched at its headquarters on 7 September 2017 in honour of him.