The Emperor's Codes : Bletchley Park's Role in Breaking Japan's Secret Cyphers
Without the extraordinary exploits of Allied codebreakers, the outcome of World War II might have been very different. Much is known about the breaking of the Nazis’ "unbreakable" Enigma cipher by the codebreakers based at Britain’s Bletchley Park, which is believed to have shortened the war in Europe by as much as two years. Less well documented is the fact that the Allied codebreakers were also working furiously to crack the codes and ciphers of all Germany’s allies in Europe and elsewhere the most important by far being Japan.
In The Emperor’s Codes, Michael Smith fully examines for the first time how Japan’s codes were broken and the differing personalities and nationalities among the often eccentric codebreakers. He details the hard work and almost unfathomable dedication demonstrated by those relatively unsung heroes who contributed immeasurably to the Allies’ eventual victory. He also takes the reader step-by-step through the codebreaking process, explaining exactly how the codebreakers went about their daunting task made even more difficult by the vast linguistic differences between Japanese and English.
The Emperor’s Codes moves across the world from Bletchley Park to Pearl Harbor; from Singapore to Colombo; and from Mombasa to Melbourne. It tells the stories of John Tiltman, the British soldier turned codebreaker who made many of the early breaks in Japanese diplomatic and military codes; Commander Joe Rochedort, the leading expert on Japanese in U.S. naval intelligence, who took to wearing his silk smoking jacket and slippers to work during three amphetamine-fuelled months spent entirely at the office; Eric Nave, the Australian sailor recruited to work for the British who pioneered breakthroughs in deciphering Japanese naval codes; and Oshima Hiroshi, the hard-drinking Japanese ambassador to Berlin, whose candid, often verbose, reports to Tokyo of his conversations with Hitler and other high-ranking Nazis were a major source of intelligence in the war against Germany. Many of these revelations have been made possible only through recently declassified British files, privileged access to Australian secret official histories, and Smith’s interviews with an unprecedented number of British, American, and Australian codebreakers.
Using the memories of those at the forefront of this struggle, Michael Smith reveals in The Emperor’s Codes a gripping and previously untold story from World War II.