U.S. Navy Codebreakers, Linguists, And Intelligence Officers Against Japan

Title:                      U.S. Navy Codebreakers, Linguists, And Intelligence Officers Against Japan

Author:                  Capt. Steven E. Maffeo

Maffeo, Steven E. (2015). U.S. Navy Codebreakers, Linguists, And Intelligence Officers Against Japan, 1910-1941: A Biographical Dictionary. Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield

LCCN:    2015030516

D810.S7 M 2535 2015


Date Posted:      March 30, 2017

Reviewed in The Intelligencer[1]

For those who recall the 1970s, the title “Behind Closed Doors” brings to mind a country ballad sung by Charlie Rich. A generation earlier though, Behind Closed Doors[2] was the title of a book about counterespionage, later to become a TV series, both based on the naval intelligence files of RAdm. Ellis M. Zacharias, a Japanese linguist, battleship commander, and later deputy chief of Naval Intelligence (ONI).

The profile of Admiral Zacharias is just one of the 59 “minibiographies” of ONI officers serving on 7 December 1941 included in Steven Maffeo’s interesting book. Though there are three officers about whom full biographies have been written (Capt. Joe Rochefort[3], Adm. Edwin Layton[4], and Capt. Jasper Holmes[5]), a 2013 poll of 40 serving naval intelligence officers “showed virtually no recognition” of the others. (p. xxii)

U.S. Navy Codebreakers seeks to make the contributions of these others part of the historical record. Maffeo has divided his book into four parts. The first deals with officers involved with radio direction-finding and traffic analysis. The second concerns cryptographers, cryptanalysts, and codebreakers. Part Three deals with linguists, translators, and intelligence officers, and the final part with what he calls “hybrids”—multiskilled and multiproficient.

Captain Maffeo, himself a former naval intelligence officer who also served in the Army Signal Corps, has produced a fine reference that accomplishes just what it set out to do.

[1] The Intelligencer (22, 2, Fall 2016, p. 127 ).

[2] Zacharias, Ellis M. (1950) in collaboration with Ladislas Farago. Behind Closed Doors; The Secret History of The Cold War. New York: Putnam

[3] Carlson, Elliott (2011). Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway. Annapolis, MD: US Naval Institute Press

[4] Layton, Edwin T., Rear Admiral (1985, 2006) with Captain Roger Pineau and John Costello. And I Was There: Breaking the Secrets–Pearl Harbor and Midway. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press

[5] Holmes, W. J. (1979, 1998). Double-Edged Secrets: U.S. Naval Intelligence Operations in The Pacific During World War II. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press

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