Without Enigma by Kenneth Macksey

Without Enigma by Kenneth MackseyWithout Enigma: The Ultra and Fellgiebel Riddles by Kenneth Macksey
Published by Endeavour Press Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 240
Format: Ebook

The cracking of the enigma code by Allied scientists at Bletchley Park has – in recent years – become one of the greatest success stories of the Second World War, lionised as the key to breaking the German war machine. Much of that narrative relies on a somewhat incompetent, oblivious characterisation of the people who were on the other side. Without Enigma seeks to take a sort of alternate history approach to the importance of the enigma machine, and the ULTRA program.

The author draws heavily on this style to develop a sort of alternative narrative, still mostly within the bounds of what actually occurred during the war. At the end of each chapter, however, he notates the places where his own stories diverge from the actual historical events, and while I found these intriguing at first, as time went on I was less and less interested in knowing where the differences lay.

I did enjoy the author’s style, and his dedication to bringing this alternative view of history to us. His characters felt realistic, and well-fleshed out, although he tended to focus a little too much on the German side of things, without giving the English enough individual credit. Axis competency aside, the reality is that the English did have some part to play in all of this.

If there is one other failing I found with this book is that it tended to be front-loaded with action, as the discovery and investigation of whether the Enigma machine is no longer secure reads like a spy novel. As the story progresses, however, I found that the pace slowed down, and it felt like a fairly banal retelling of our own reality, with only vague callbacks to the earlier alternatives. This remains an interesting read, for people with an interest in history, who are looking for more than what they get taught in school. I don’t necessarily agree that the author succeeds in his premise of revealing the ‘importance’ of enigma to be a lie, but it is an interesting read nonetheless.

Rating Report
Overall: three-half-stars

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