Between Silk and Cyanide

Between Silk and Cyanide

4.15 (1,534 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

In 1942, with a black-market chicken under his arm, Leo Marks left his father's famous bookshop, 84 Charing Cross Road, and went to war. He was twenty-two and a cryptopgraher of genius. In Between Silk and Cyanide, his critically acclaimed account of his time in SOE, Marks tells how he revolutionised the code-making techniques of the Allies, trained some of the most famous agents dropped into France including Violette Szabo and 'the White Rabbit', and why he wrote haunting verse including his 'The Life that I have' poem. He reveals for the first time the disastrous dimensions of the code war between SOE and the Germans in Holland; how the Germans were fooled into thinking a Secret Army was operating in the Fatherland itself, and how and why he broke General de Gaulle's secret code. Both thrilling and poignant, Marks's book is truly one of the last great Second World War memoirs.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 480 pages
  • 124 x 194 x 46mm | 621.42g
  • The History Press Ltd
  • Stroud, United Kingdom
  • English
  • UK ed.
  • black and white illustrations
  • 0750948353
  • 9780750948357
  • 67,136

Review quote

Martin Scorsese "Between Silk and Cyanide" is a mesmerizing account of World War II as fought on the home front in Great Britain by the ingenious codemakers whose work determined the life and death of the Allied agents in occupied Europe. Leo Marks, a brilliant cryptographer, is a masterful and passionate storyteller. I was immediately swept into his secret world of codes and "undecipherables," trying at times (without success) to unravel the puzzles myself, and found it difficult to put down the book until the drama had come to an end.show more

Back cover copy

In 1942, Leo Marks left his father's famous London bookshop, 84 Charing Cross Road, and went off to fight the war. He was twenty-two. Soon recognized as a cryptographer of genius, he became head of communications at the Special Operations Executive (SOE), where he revolutionized the codemaking techniques of the Allies and trained some of the most famous agents dropped into occupied Europe, including "the White Rabbit" and Violette Szabo. As a top codemaker, Marks had a unique perspective on one of the most fascinating and, until now, little-known aspects of the Second World War.Writing with the narrative flair and vivid characterization of his famous screenplays, Marks gives free rein to his keen sense of the absurd and his wry wit, resulting in a thrilling and poignant memoir that celebrates individual courage and endeavor, without losing sight of the human cost and horror of war.show more

About Leo Marks

Leo Marks himself is a legend both as a cryptographer and as a scriptwriter. His most famous work, Peeping Tom, a terrifying thriller about a killer obsessed with photographing the fear on the faces of the beautiful women he is about to murder, is a cult classic of 1960s cinema. He was also the voice of Satan in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ.show more

Rating details

1,534 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 43% (667)
4 36% (552)
3 15% (226)
2 4% (67)
1 1% (22)
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