Room 40: British Naval Intelligence, 1914-18 by Patrick Beesly

Room 40: British Naval Intelligence, 1914-18 by Patrick Beesly soon to be presented for sale on the superior BookLovers of Bath web site!

Published: London: Hamish Hamilton, 1982, Hardback in dust wrapper.

Illustrated by way of: Black and White Photographs; Maps [1];

From the cover: Room 40 was the unofficial name of the British Admiralty’s World War I codebreaking organisation. Its mastery of German Navy and Diplomatic codes had as profound an effect on the outcome of the First World War as Bletchley Park’s penetration of Axis codes did on the Second. But for the work of Room 40, there would have been no Battle of Jutland, the Irish Easter Rising in 1916 might have succeeded, and the United States would not have joined the Allies in April 1917.

The story of the creation of Room 40, of the extraordinary band of amateurs-university professors, clergymen, naval schoolmasters, stockbrokers and bankers – who formed its staff, of the capture before the end of 1914 of all the German naval codes, of how they and their replacements were read by the British for the next four years, is enthralling. The Head of British Naval Intelligence was that legendary admiral ‘Blinker’ Hall, described by the American Ambassador as the ‘one genius that the war has developed. Neither in fiction nor in fact can you find any man to match him all other secret service men are amateurs by comparison’ , a judgement as true today as it was in 1917. The account of Hall’s use of double agents, double cross, disinformation, bribery and general skulduggery is fascinating.

Why was the Lusitania sunk – unforgivable cock-up or an even more unforgivable conspiracy? Could the Turks have been bribed to desert Germany before the tragic Dardanelles campaign? Why was Jutland not a second Trafalgar? What was the Zimmermann Telegram and how did Hall use it to persuade a reluctant President Wilson to declare war on Germany? How did Room 40 help to defeat the U-boats and win the first Battle of the Atlantic? These are but some of the intriguing questions to which this book supplies the answers. And, above all, it brings to life the characters of those involved and describes the clashes of personalities, the mistakes and triumphs of the admirals and politicians of seventy years ago as though it had happened yesterday.

Good in Good Dust Wrapper. Heavily faded at the spine of the dust wrapper. Pages deeply tanned by age.

Black boards with Gilt titling to the Spine. [XI] 338 pages. Index. Bibliography. 8¾” x 5¾”.

Of course, if you don’t like this one, may I woo you with the cream of my crop hither or maybe further, hand picked, books in my Military Naval catalogue?


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