July 2013 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.
The follow-up book to the bestselling Secret Life of Bletchley Park focuses on the men and women who were posted around the world to set up and run listening stations and pass back what they heard to Bletchley Park for decoding. Using interviews with surviving veterans, their remarkable human stories of love, hardship and danger are wonderfully told.
Behind the celebrated code-breaking at Bletchley Park lies another secret...The men and women of the 'Y' (for Wireless') Service were sent out across the world to run listening stations from Gibraltar to Cairo, intercepting the German military's encrypted messages for decoding back at the now-famous Bletchley Park mansion. Such wartime postings were life-changing adventures - travel out by flying boat or Indian railways, snakes in filing cabinets and heat so intense the perspiration ran into your shoes - but many of the secret listeners found lifelong romance in their far-flung corner of the world. Now, drawing on dozens of interviews with surviving veterans, Sinclair McKay tells their remarkable story at last.
'A fascinating read'
Milton Keynes Citizen
'McKay's focus is rather on the personal experiences of the individual Y Service operators - it brings home not only the reality of what these people were doing but also the daily privations endured with remarkable resilience by so many in that war. As with those at Bletchley, the silence of that generation, their disciplined restraint for decades afterwards, is as impressive as their achievements. They felt the powerful pull of common cause and (mostly) had the privilege of knowing that their contribution was significant. Awful as it was for much of the time, for many nothing that followed ever quite lived up to it. We should be grateful that the survivors are talking now.'
Alan Judd Spectator
'As McKay argues in this well-told story, the Y Service has been sadly and curiously uncelebrated. Yet were it not for all those encoded messages relayed with such care, the codebreakers at Bletchley would have had little to go on. It was their efforts that made the revolutionary leaps of Bletchley possible. They should be commemorated properly as having played their parts in one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century, he says. And he has done them proud.'
Brian MacArthur Daily Telegraph
'Sinclair McKay has gathered together memories, from published works and from interviews with surviving veterans. This book is full of delightful episodes.'
The Book Dad
'Sinclair McKay's account of this secret war of the airwaves is as painstakingly researched and fascinating as his bestselling The Secret Life Of Bletchley Park, and an essential companion to it.'
'Their contribution enabled the code-breakers to achieve their break-through, something that, in turn, shortened the war and saved countless lives.'
Good Book Guide
'The veterans who monitored radio traffic and transcrived Morse code are given full, overdue credit in this intriguing book'
'Author Sinclair McKay has once again unearthed a fascinating compendium of memories from surviving veterans whose vital contribution to the war effort had been shrouded in secrecy.'
'The Secret Listeners draws our attention to the important contribution made by modest, patriotic men and women engaged in war work where individual decorations were rarely awarded and secrecy demanded that even their closest relatives were denied an insight into their contribution to the Allied victory.'
Times Literary Supplement
'McKay's story of the wireless interceptors is one of willing amateurs and gifted eccentrics, of patience, accuracy, and endurance. A fine book with a genuinely new angle on a familiar topic, full of vivid and fascinating characters.'
Military History Monthly
Publication date: 04/07/2013
Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd
|Publication date:||4th July 2013|
|Publisher:||Aurum Press Ltd|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography, Books of the Month, History, The Real World,|
|Categories:||Second World War, 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000, Espionage & secret services,|
Sinclair McKay writes regularly for the Daily Telegraph and The Secret Listeners and has written books about James Bond and Hammer horror for Aurum. His next book, about the wartime Y Service during World War II, is due to be published by Aurum in 2012. He lives in London. Author photo © Liam BerginMore About Sinclair McKay