The Reader of Gentlemen’s Mail: Herbert O. Yardley and the Birth of American Codebreaking
Cryptographers and other spies already know and respect the name of Herbert O. Yardley. He isn’t well known by others, but almost fifty years after his death, he has gotten a full, instructive biography. Kahn is the perfect teller of this tale, having written both articles for scholarly journals as well as popular books about intelligence matters. There is not a great deal of detail about the procedures of decryption, which are described only generally, but there is a unique American life here. According to Kahn, Yardley better than anyone foresaw how important cracking signals could be to American intelligence. He created the first permanent agency to intercept messages and break them. He was “the most colorful and controversial figure in American intelligence,” and his controversial actions are fully included here.