A Clear Case of Genius : Room 40s Code Breaking Pioneer
In 1933 the Admiralty banned `Blinker' Hall from publishing his autobiography, but here, for the first time, those chapters that survived are presented in full. See what the renowned spymaster had to say about the British Naval Intelligence - the pinnacle of the world's secret intelligence services. He explores the function of secret intelligence in wartime, censorship, subterfuge, the significance of Churchill in the Dardanelles campaign, the Zimmermann Telegram, the USA's entry to the First World War and more.
With supporting text and images by Philip Vickers and a foreword by expert author Nigel West, A Clear Case of Genius provides a unique insight into the thinking of one of Britain's pioneering intelligence leaders.
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This partial autobiography has been waiting 84 years for publication. In 1933 the Government banned it and arranged for key chapters to be destroyed. What we have here are the surviving ones, which provide a tantalising taste of how fascinating the lost chapters must have been. Room 40 was the office in the Admiralty of the Director of Naval Intelligence, Admiral Sir Reginald 'Blinker' Hall. This man built on the embryonic function of naval intelligence in the first years of the twentieth century, developing cryptographic and other techniques for the collection and application of secret information to promote the war effort. These surviving autobiographical chapters cover topics such as the Zimmerman telegram to illustrate the way that his department worked and the impact it was able to have. It was this case that earned Hall the tribute of being 'the man that brought America into the Great War'. The book also provides an entertaining insight into the character of 'Blinker' Hall himself.
The content of the chapters has already been drawn on by many others in writing histories of naval intelligence, for instance Gannon and Beesly, so there is little new here for researchers. It could be argued that this book is merely for completists. However, it benefits from a commentary on each of the chapters by Philip Vickers of the Royal Marines Historical Society, which also expands on what Hall has written, and provides background information on the characters and ships mentioned, together with maps and 32 pages of photographs. Moreover, it is fascinating to read of the Department's activities first hand, and they are told with such Boy's Own relish that the lay person will enjoy them as much as any intelligence specialist or student of World War One.
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