|» About Michael Smith|
|» The Downing Street Memos|
|» Downing Street Memo Links|
|» Books by Michael Smith|
|» What's the Real Story?|
|» Contact Michael Smith|
|When I was first asked by a fellow author whether I was interested in writing a book on Bletchley Park I dismissed the idea as a non-starter. I was rather embarrassed a few weeks later to be offered the contract to write the book of a Channel 4 television series on Bletchley Park, entitled simply Station X, the codename given to Bletchley by MI6.
|The producers of Station X carried out a large number of interviews with former codebreakers. While much of this material ended up on the cutting room floor, I was able to use a great deal of it in the book. I also used my own research from the Public Record Office (now known as the National Archive).|
|Station X was a huge success for Channel 4 and its producers Darlow Smithson and the hunger to know more about the fascinating work carried out at BP, as it was known to insiders, and the effect this had on the war sent the book Station X: The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park to the top of the Sunday Times bestseller list. Some non-starter!|
At the time, it was the accepted wisdom that American codebreakers broke the bulk of the Japanese codes and ciphers. But The Emperor's Codes drew on files newly released to the Public Record Office to show that in fact most were originally broken by British codebreakers.
The files also revealed something else. The British codebreakers might have made the first breaks but US technological capabilities ensured that thereafter it was the Americans who stayed ahead of the game, easily leading in the battle to track down changes to the Japanese codes and ciphers.
This led to astonishingly bitter rows as some short-sighted US officials refused to share their achievements with the British, their main ally in the war against both the Germans and the Japanese. The rows over the lack of American cooperation on Japanese ciphers came close to stymieing the closest intelligence exchange arrangement the world has ever known, the UKUSA accord, which even now ensures that GCHQ, Bletchley Park's successor, and its US equivalent the NSA share both their coverage of the world and virtually all the intelligence they produce.
This is simply not true as I showed in a chapter written for the book Understanding Intelligence in the Twenty-First Century: Journeys in the Shadows, edited by Professor Len Scott and Peter Jackson of the University of Wales. Prof Breitman is one of the leading authorities on the Holocaust. Official Secrets is a powerful, compelling and thoroughly depressing narrative of what by any measure must count as one of the most cruel deeds ever committed by man against his fellow man but my chapter, entitled simply Bletchley Park and the Holocaust, shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Prof Breitman's central thesis that both Bletchley Park and Churchill effectively covered up the killings is deeply flawed and in fact just plain wrong.
Praise for Michael Smith's Bletchley Park books:
'I'm delighted and astonished by Station X. Michael Smith has caught so well the mixture of nuttiness, angst, hard slog, irritation and euphoria.'
Susan Wenham, former Bletchley codebreaker who worked on Enigma in Hut 6
'Gives a more comprehensive picture of the wartime activities of myself and my colleagues than any other book on Bletchley Park.'
Jimmy Thirsk, former intelligence analyst at Station X
The Emperor's Codes
'Tells the full riveting story of the breaking of the Japanese codes. An enthralling tale, the stuff of John le Carre or Robert Harris, but true.'
Martin Booth, Daily Telegraph
'Smith writes a real-life thriller that unfolds like a classic spy story. An engrossing and exciting recounting of an obscure but important facet of World War II'
Action This Day
'This gem offers a pleasing combination of scholarship and memoirs'
Mark E Sout, The CIA's Studies in Intelligence
'Historians of World War II and the SIGINT buffs will be very grateful to the two editors for taking on the great work of compiling this collection of papers which greatly extends our knowledge about the work done at BP.'
Jurgen Rohwer, Journal of Intelligence History