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elvenjaneite

By Singing Light

Pretty much everything here originally appeared at my actual blog: By Singing Light. I particularly focus on upper middle-grade and young adult books. I also enjoy adult genre books, especially speculative fiction.

Currently reading

Landmarks
Robert Macfarlane
The Lost Tools of Learning and the Mind of the Maker
Dorothy L. Sayers
1666: Plague, War, and Hellfire
Rebecca Rideal
Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Lost Stars
Claudia Gray, Phil Noto
Cloudwish
Fiona Wood
The Seventh Bride
Kingfisher
Hope in the Dark
Rebecca Solnit
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Natasha Pulley
The Secret of a Heart Note
Stacey Covington-Lee
Outrun the Moon
Stacey Lee

bysinginglight.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/recent-reading-maguire-and-marks

Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945 - Leo Marks

Between Silk and Cyanide was mentioned by a reader on my post about Noor Inayat Khan, since Marks worked with her and talks about her in his book. It’s a memoir of his time as a cryptographer and code-breaker for the SOE during World War II. Marks is an engaging writer, who I suspect could talk great piffle–his style actually reminded me a bit of Beverly Nichols. At the same time, he’s quite acutely aware of the realities of the struggle he’s engaged in. There were times I laughed, but other times that were completely heartbreaking (perhaps partly because I already knew a bit about some of the SOE agents and their fates–he talks quite a bit about both Noor and Violette Szabo who clearly both made strong impressions).

 

So this was an informative and interesting book, although I continue to not understand anything about codes. At the same time, I found myself wishing that I were reading it with a history of the SOE at hand, because it’s so much Marks’s story, filtered through his point of view. It’s a delightful, compelling point of view, certainly, and I found myself thinking about the apparent similarities between the creative writing process and the cryptographic one. And it’s not that I doubted Marks’s achievements, but rather that his experience is a bit, as he confesses a few times, insular. It’s not even a flaw as such, because it does exactly what it sets out to do: Leo Marks gives his experience in the SOE. All the same, I would like to balance it with an overview of the same time and situation.

 

As a side note, Marks was the son of one of the founders of Marks & Co., better known perhaps as 84 Charing Cross Road, and in fact centers a lot of his experience with and love for codes on the bookstore. It’s a source of income, of status (because so many of his superiors with whom he did battle were also customers), and inspiration.

 

Book source: public library
Book information: 1998, Free Press; adult non-fiction

Source: http://bysinginglight.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/recent-reading-maguire-and-marks