MICHAEL SMITH speaks at this event on Saturday 19th March at 4pm.
Michael authored the best-selling books The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park and The Secrets of Station X — How the Bletchley Park Codebreakers Helped Win the War. He is also Historical Adviser to the Bletchley Park Trust.
Based on the research for his latest publication, The Debs of Bletchley Park and Other Stories, Michael will explain in detail the important roles of some of the 8,000 women who worked at Bletchley during the war.
In addition to his career as an author, Michael spent ten years in Intelligence Operations for the British Army, and was defence correspondent of the Daily Telegraph and then the Sunday Times. Today, he is a trustee of Bletchley Park and is Chair of the trust’s Historical Advisory Group.
His most recent book is The Secret Agent’s Bedside Reader, which contains passages from books and intelligence reports written by British intelligence officers or agents. It includes John le Carré introducing George Smiley; Ian Fleming in an intelligence memo written during the Second World War in which he fights to protect MI6 from being cut (thereby ensuring a home for his future protagonist James Bond); one of Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden stories; Kim Philby’s report back to Moscow Centre on a meeting with Roger Hollis, the future head of MI5 and allegedly also a Soviet agent; a passage from Graham Greene’s classic spy thriller The Human Factor; and other extracts. It was one of the Spectator Books of the Year 2014.
Michael has kindly supplied details of several of his other books, including what GCHQ today calls the “definitive” account of Bletchley Park in World War II
- The Secrets of Station X (Biteback, 2011)
- This is the only complete narrative account of Bletchley Park describing what happened there, both in terms of codes and ciphers broken and the way people lived, and explaining what impact Bletchley Park had on the war. It is the book recommended by GCHQ’s internal historian to GCHQ staff interested in the book and has been described by the current Chief Executive of Bletchley Park as the definitive account.
- The Emperor’s Codes: The Breaking of Japan’s Secret Ciphers (Biteback 2010)
- As the title suggests, this is about breaking the Japanese codes and ciphers and includes quotes from the very many people who worked on these at Bletchley Park, including Betty Webb MBE who will be at the festival.
- The Bletchley Park Codebreakers [Edited with Ralph Erskine](Biteback 2011)
- This is a more detailed book. It is a collection of essays by Bletchley codebreakers and historians on various aspects of Bletchley Park. Louis Kruh, editor of Cryptologia, described it as ‘Absolutely the best book ever written about codebreaking at Bletchley Park.’
- Bletchley Park: The Codebreakers of Station X (Shire, 2013)
- A typical Shire Library style book of words and pictures. It is the simplest, easy-to-read and digest description of everything that went on at Bletchley Park.
- Britain’s Secret War 1939-45 (Andre Deutsch, 2011)
- This is a much more popular style of book which is split into two-page spreads description of all British intelligence operations during the war and splits the Bletchley Park contribution into its main component parts, eg: the Battle of the Atlantic; the war in North Africa; D-Day; the War in the Far East, etc. It also includes facsimiles of actual documents from Bletchley Park, including important decoded messages.
- The Secret Agent’s Bedside Reader: A Compendium of Spy Writing (Biteback, 2014)
- This is a collection of extracts from some of the best books on intelligence, including one from The Bletchley Park Codebreakers on Bletchley Park’s contribution to the D-Day deception.