Try an audiobook on us

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park

Narrated by: Gordon Griffin
Length: 11 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (164 ratings)
Regular price: £18.99
£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

Bletchley Park was where one of the war’s most famous - and crucial - achievements was made: the cracking of Germany’s “Enigma” code in which its most important military communications were couched. This country house in the Buckinghamshire countryside was home to Britain’s most brilliant mathematical brains, like Alan Turing, and the scene of immense advances in technology - indeed, the birth of modern computing. The military codes deciphered there were instrumental in turning both the Battle of the Atlantic and the war in North Africa. Plenty has been written about the boffins, and the code breaking, fictional and non-fiction.

Sinclair McKay’s book is the first history for the general listener of life at Bletchley Park, and an amazing compendium of memories from people now in their 80s - of skating on the frozen lake in the grounds, of a youthful Roy Jenkins, useless at code breaking, of the hijinks at nearby accommodation hostels - and of the implacable secrecy that meant girlfriend and boyfriend working in adjacent huts knew nothing about each other’s work.

©2012 Sinclair Mckay (P)2012 Audible Ltd

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    95
  • 4 Stars
    49
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    2

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    93
  • 4 Stars
    39
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    1

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    90
  • 4 Stars
    43
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Lots of repetition

The story of Bletchley is fascinating and truly British in its brilliance, however this book was over long, covered some information twice but from a different angle and at times felt very superficial. Not for me I'm afraid.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • Woking, United Kingdom
  • 08-12-13

They've kept this secret for so long!

Yes, I vaguely knew what they did there, and perhaps even a bit about how they did it, but what astonished me were the names of the politicians involved, and how they filtered the decoded messages, and even how people I knew at university and my next-door neighbour were involved at various levels. Every chapter showed me a new aspect and how the politicians acted very strongly (perhaps wisely, or not) on the information. What it did not cover were the technicalities of Enigma which may have gone over my head, or personalities such as Turing and his input. It's one of those books that stay with you so you can chat over dinners and score points about what you know. Absolutely fascinating. Definitely not a light read but not heavy going at all. I could pick it up and start again after a long break.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Good stories, terrible writing

It seems to me that this book was written in a much different order to the way it appears. Too often do we get re-introduced to veterans that we already know about and on various occasions hear about the exact same story as was in previous chapters!
Although the collation of veteran accounts and stories is very intriguing and pertinent, the manner in which it is laid out did not allow me to enjoy it as I think it should. This, I believe, could be easily fixed with decent editing.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Informative

Enjoyable story of life at Bletchley Park. This tells the story of the people who worked there. How could so many people work in one location and keep it a secret.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing

This is an amazing insight into a very important place. Totally underestimated at the time of its working, this book highlights the many ordinary men and women who took on the role as code breakers and managed to shorten the Second World War by 2 years.
Would highly recommend this book to anyone and feel a definite listen to teenager brought up it a world where there are so many computers. This book gives a great insight into the start of our computer world. The narration is brilliant, exceptionally well read, clear and easy to understand.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

An important study, disappointingly told

Utterly brilliant subject matter revealed by no doubt excellent research, but in my view worthy of a more analytical, less gossipy style. Narrator is OK, but often gets the emphasis wrong.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Pauline
  • Fakenham, United Kingdom
  • 30-11-13

Disappointing

What disappointed you about The Secret Life of Bletchley Park?

Plodding style detracts totally from a Fascinating subject

What did you like best about this story?

The subject

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Gordon Griffin?

Needed rewriting, not a change of narrator

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Secret Life of Bletchley Park?

The endless repeats of facts about people that had already been disclosed

Any additional comments?

Read like a degree thesis or a serialisation stuck together without editing

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant Book very absorbing

Fascinating account of Bletchley park. I have known for many years of the work of Alan Turin, But I had not realised the scale of the OPERATION - THE NUMBER OF HUTS, THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE MAKE . THE WHOLE QUESTION OF SECURITY IS ALL THE more mind-boggling. Different GENERATIONS.COULD WE HAVE fought the ?SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE SCRUTINY OF TODAY’s MEDIA. ?

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gary L
  • Liverpool, UK
  • 26-02-19

such a fantastic insight in to a hidden gem

the stories you have heard or seen in movies ie (The Imitation Game) is not a patch on the real life stories, of people who lived day to day in Bletchley park.

it really shows how much of a hidden gem Bletchley was.

if you have any interest in how people manage secrets and coding this is for you.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Delving into lives of heroism dwarfed by Secrecy

All I can say is Wow! for a fact based book with many small excerpts divulged from all ranges of Bletchley workers, this book has been pulled together and the history recanted with flow.

This is incredibly interesting and certainly quenched my thirst for secrets. I am in awe of the hard work, determinism and patriotic manner all at Bletchley delivered.

Certainly gives meaning to the explosion of the technical age and computers that are in every part of our lives today.

Thank you for everything!