SOCIAL SCIENCES

Code Warriors: NSA's Codebreakers and the Secret Intelligence War Against the Soviet Union

Knopf. Jun. 2016. 416p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780385352666. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780385352673. POL SCI
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OrangeReviewStarIn the time since Edward Snowden leaked National Security Agency (NSA) documents in 2014, the American public has scrutinized the organization. Critics portray the NSA as a bloated bureaucracy that tramples on freedoms. Budiansky (former national security correspondent, U.S. News & World Report; Blackett's War) dives into the NSA's Cold War history to absorbingly reveal that although the NSA had successes, its foundation is partly based upon bureaucratic and questionable behaviors. Though the title suggests a portrait of the NSA's codebreakers, the arch is primarily on the agency in the 1940s through the 1960s. One cannot blame the author for this because he had to deal with access restrictions. As a result, the full story has not been written, and who knows if it can ever be. Despite these limitations, this well-written work may be likened to Matthew Aid's The Secret Sentry or Jonathan Haslam's Near and Distant Neighbors.
VERDICT Recommended for Cold War spy enthusiasts and those seeking to broaden their knowledge of the NSA.

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