Cracking the Nazi Code

Cracking the Nazi Code by Jason Bell

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Cracking the Nazi Code:

Hitler was not the beginning.

Quick synopsis:

A look at the career of Winthrop Bell who spied on the Nazis before World War II.

Fact for Non-History People:

By the end of World War II, the Nazis were responsible for 20 million deaths without counting combat related deaths.

Fact for History Nerds:

Franz Ferdinand was assassinated after nearly being assassinated earlier that day.

My Take on Cracking the Nazi Code:

Spies come in many different forms. Some are the James Bond types who are constantly in shootouts with death knocking at their door. Some are more subtle. Jason Bell introduces us to Winthrop Bell (no relation) in his book Cracking the Nazi Code.

First things first, this is not really a spy book. The spy Bell mostly went around Germany after World War I posing as a journalist while reporting back to MI6. The derring-do is about his determination to learn information and present it to leadership rather than physical danger, although there is some. A good portion of the book is really about how Nazis didn’t just show up out of thin air in the personification of Adolf Hitler. Bell, the author, traces how the end of World War I is when this horrible movement started to truly take hold.

I have two criticisms of the book which are not huge. It does feel repetitive at times. Bell the spy consistently pushes his views, and they don’t change drastically. It means Bell the author will cover the same ground often. The other criticism is Bell the author places a LOT of influence on Bell the spy. It comes off as an author who fell in love with his subject so much that he sees him as the conduit for all good things. I felt at times like the author attributed too much to Bell the spy without solid evidence. I don’t think anything is made up at all, I just questioned the level of influence Bell ultimately had on greater actions of the governments in the book.

For anyone who wants a better understanding of the political world right after World War I, this is definitely a book you want to look at.

(This book was provided as an advance reader copy by the publisher.)


A well-written book about a time many books skip over. Buy it here!

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