A Conversation for Between Silk and Cyanide: Leo Marks Decodes SOE

Peer Review: A87945664 - Between Silk and Cyanide: Leo Marks Decodes SOE

Post 1

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Entry: Between Silk and Cyanide: Leo Marks Decodes SOE - A87945664
Author: Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China - U1590784

I had the urge to reread this book after a hiatus of 20 years. It still impressed me, so here's a review.

Even if readers don't feel up to 600+ pages of very absorbing story, they might enjoy the historical titbits.

smiley - dragon


A87945664 - Between Silk and Cyanide: Leo Marks Decodes SOE

Post 2

SashaQ - happysad and 'slightly mad'

Excellent - I enjoyed this as it was good to learn more about actions outside Bletchley Park smiley - ok Is this a link you can work in somewhere? A87859381

Only one question I had when reading: "Nobody was supposed to know their 'secret code', but they didn't have any code experts to help them break the ones with mistakes in." - why did they need to break the codes with mistakes in?

smiley - ok


A87945664 - Between Silk and Cyanide: Leo Marks Decodes SOE

Post 3

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

smiley - ok Zimmermann Telegram linked to.

They had to break the code messages with mistakes in to read the messages. And it was a horrible job. Sometimes it took as many as 18,000 tries. And when you think that a computer could have done it quickly, and what they had was pencils and paper... smiley - headhurts You see, if someone misspelled a word from their code poem, or misaligned the columns on the paper, or added a number wrong, the whole thing would be off.

Marks was really good at this. Fortunately, the French codes were easier to break than the ones miscoded by the Norwegian saboteurs. He usually did this in the gents' loo, because he was absolutely not supposed to be doing it. (But it helped win the war.)

I don't want to load the review down with technical matters, for two reasons:

1. I don't really understand how the codes worked. It's math, and I would have been a terrible spy for that reason. smiley - winkeye

2. Describing all of that decoding activity takes up a couple of hundred pages in a 600-page book. smiley - laugh

That being said, let me know if you think it needs another sentence of explanation. smiley - smiley

If you're really interested, and can find the film 'Cloudburst' - we found it on Amazon Prime - that film shows a bit about how it was done. The film, by Leo Marks, is about a codebreaker who uses his abilities to catch the criminals who killed his wife in an automobile accident.


A87945664 - Between Silk and Cyanide: Leo Marks Decodes SOE

Post 4

SashaQ - happysad and 'slightly mad'

smiley - ok

Yes, no need for technical details. I just couldn't visualise what was going on with the fellow spies. So French spies were sending each other information but they were making mistakes so the messages couldn't be decoded at the other end? Marks broke the 'mistake codes' and recoded the messages with the correct code so they could be decoded by the intended recipients?

The film 'Cloudburst' sounds intriguing and poignant indeed...


A87945664 - Between Silk and Cyanide: Leo Marks Decodes SOE

Post 5

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

smiley - ok Yes, you've got it exactly! He made it possible for the French to read their own traffic by recoding it.

Oh, and I've just now found a book talk by Leo Marks on Youtube!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3TbRgLymdQ


A87945664 - Between Silk and Cyanide: Leo Marks Decodes SOE

Post 6

Tavaron da Quirm - Arts Editor

A great Entry, very interesting. smiley - smiley


A87945664 - Between Silk and Cyanide: Leo Marks Decodes SOE

Post 7

Bluebottle

I've re-read and my only thought is that maybe Bundesnachrichtendienst could do with an explanation, something along the lines of 'Meaning Federal Intelligence Service and often abbreviated to BND, since 1956 this has been (initially West) Germany's official foreign intelligence agency' ?

<BB<


A87945664 - Between Silk and Cyanide: Leo Marks Decodes SOE

Post 8

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Thanks! Done. smiley - ok


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Post 9

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Post 10

SashaQ - happysad and 'slightly mad'

Congratulations! smiley - bubblysmiley - biggrin


Congratulations - Your Entry has been Recommended for the Edited Guide!

Post 11

Tavaron da Quirm - Arts Editor

Congratulations!smiley - bubbly


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