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Delusions of Intelligence


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Table of Contents

Introduction: the traitor in our midst; 1. Enigma: the development and use of a new technology; 2. Early triumph: German intelligence successes; 3. Of no mutual assistance: compartmentalization and competition in German signals intelligence; 4. The work of Station X: centralizing Allied cryptology at Bletchley Park; 5. Protecting Boniface: Allied security, disguise, and dissemination of Ultra; 6. The illusion of security: the German explanations for Allied successes; 7. Determined answers: structural problems in German signal intelligence; 8. A long-standing anxiety: Allied communications security; 9. Enter the machines: the role of science and machines in the cryptologic war; Conclusion: ending the era of security.

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This book explores how the Allies achieved Signals Intelligence success in WWII, success which fostered the German blindness to Enigma's compromise.

About the Author

R. A. Ratcliff, who currently lives and consults in the hills above Silicon Valley, has taught history and rhetoric at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of San Francisco and has lectured at the National Security Agency's intelligence school. In addition to working in the high tech industry, Dr. Ratcliff has written articles for Cryptologia, Intelligence and National Security, and the NSA's internal newsletter.


Ratcliff, a freelance scholar and consultant, offers a provocative analysis of WWII signals intelligence from a German perspective. The author focuses on Enigma, the electronic ciphering machine the Germans believed foolproof, and Ultra, the war-winning intelligence derived from the Allied operation that broke Enigma's codes. The work begins with a discussion of Enigma's technology that's particularly useful for non specialists. Ratcliff's emphasis, however, is on the cipher war's human aspects. Germany gave intelligence, particularly strategic intelligence, low priority for limited resources, leading to "compartmentalization and competition" among agencies that were increasingly unwilling to share even basic information. German intelligence security was also reactive, based on solving problems as opposed to anticipating them. Above all, German imagination failed by refusing to consider the possibility that Enigma could be solved. That led to increasingly far-fetched explanations for Allied intelligence successes-which further distracted attention from the real problem. Ratcliff contrasts German failure with the Allies' readiness to centralize signals intelligence at Bletchley Park; to ignore structural barriers in favor of results; and, not least, to do something difficult for democracies even in total war: keep the secret. The author juxtaposes that triumph with the blinkered German belief that technology assured security-a mind-set resembling that of the contemporary United States far too closely for comfort. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

'This book is a major addition to the existing literature on code breaking during the Second World War, and may well create a stir among historians of cryptology, especially in Europe.' Intelligence of National Security 'A fascinating book! If I was still teaching I would get my students to read it.' Professor Robert Moore, University of Liverpool '... is well written and accessible and is indispensable to any student of wartime intelligence. For the general reader, it is an excellent introduction to the topic of wartime code breaking.' Tines Higher Education Supplement

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