Eavesdropping On The Rising Sun

A young man from Queens jumps into the thick of World War II intelligence activities by translating secret Japanese messages

IN HIS MARVELOUS MEMOIR, Flights of Passage, my friend and onetime colleague Samuel Hynes, a Marine Corps combat aviator in World War II, writes that the war is the shared secret of his generation—those young men who came of age between December 7, 1941, and September 2, 1945. For those of the approximately 12 million Americans in uniform for some or all of those years, it was an experience both personal and collective like nothing before or after. Those who went through the hell of combat carry physical and emotional scars as reminders.Read more »

America’s Unknown Intelligence Czar

George Henry Sharpe’s Bureau of Military Information helped win the Civil War—and is especially worth remembering today

To the student of intelligence history, there has been something eerily familiar in the recent headlines about American intelligence failures. Panels investigating weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the September 11 terrorist attacks have zeroed in on a bugbear that has plagued America’s spy business many times in the past, from the Battle of Bull Run to Pearl Harbor to the Cold War.

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George Washington, Spymaster

Without his brilliance at espionage the Revolution could not have been won

 

George Washington a master of espionage? It is commonly understood that without the Commander in Chief’s quick mind and cool judgment the American Revolution would have almost certainly expired in 1776. It is less well known that his brilliance extended to overseeing, directly and indirectly, extensive and very sophisticated intelligence activities against the British.

 
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Why The Military Can’t Get The Figures Right

A former Department of Defense adviser—one of Robert S. McNamara’s Whiz Kids—explains why we tend to overestimate Russian strength, and why we underestimate what it will cost to defend ourselves

Twenty years ago Alain C. Enthoven was one of America’s most controversial intellectuals in the field of military affairs. He had gone to the Pentagon in 1961 to act as a civilian adviser to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. By training he was an economist, with degrees from Stanford (1952), Oxford (1954), and MIT (1956). From 1956 to 1960 he worked at the RAND Corporation, doing contract research for the Air Force. Read more »

Tales From The Black Chambers

THE MAKING AND BREAKING OF CODES AND CIPHERS HAS PLAYED AN EXCITING AND OFTEN CRUCIAL PART IN AMERICAN HISTORY

By choice, cryptographers are an unsung and anonymous lot. In war and peace they labor in their black chambers, behind barred doors, dispatching sheets of secret symbols and reading encoded messages from the innermost councils of foreign governments. Few tales have leaked from those rooms. Read more »

Japan Strikes: 1941

Sixteen years before Pearl Harbor an English naval expert uncannily prophesied in detail the war in the Pacific. Now comes evidence that the Japanese heeded his theories—but not his warnings

As soon as Imperial Japan destroyed the Russian Navy in a spectacular sea battle at the Straits of Tsushima in 1905, a rash of would-be Cassandras began to foretell the day when the rays of the Rising Sun would spread eastward across the Pacific, bringing Japan head-on into conflict with the United States.Read more »