Elizabeth Smith a young Quaker schoolteacher and poetry scholar from a small town in Indiana headed for Chicago in 1916 and met wealthy and eccentric businessman George Fabyan who owned a compound named Riverbank. Fabyan would fund intellectuals holed up at Riverbank to find encoded messages that Francis Bacon supposedly embedded in the works of William Shakespeare. Elizabeth found she had a knack for code-breaking. So it begins.
Working at Riverbank, Elizabeth would meet and marry William Friedman (a legendary name in intelligence history and the science of modern American cryptology). Elizabeth’s story weaves through WWI, Prohibition-era smugglers, who used codes similar to codes used by Nazi spies, and WWII.
She cracked the Nazi codes, helping to bring down the Nazi spy ring in South America that reported on Allied ship movements and worked to sway the South American continent toward Germany. An extortionary book, well researched that shines a light on vital codebreaker Elizabeth Friedman (Smith) set against the backdrop of the beginning and growth of the modern intelligence community.
The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by Jason Fagone is available at Amazon.