Home > What I've Read > Book Review: The Puzzle Palace

Book Review: The Puzzle Palace

The Puzzle Palace: A Report on NSA, America's Most Secret Agency by [James Bamford]

The Puzzle Palace suffers because it is locked in time. First published in 1984, it was no doubt a revelatory expose of the NSA, following on the Church Commission reports, but it really pales compared to what is happening today. The book does a great job of laying out the history of the organization going back to the work of original cryptologist, Herbert Yardley, in the early Twentieth Century, following through the Agency’s official establishment by President Truman in 1952, and the years of growth and public deception, as its employees happily eavesdropped on telegrams, telexes, and phone calls from all over the world. The narrative bogs down quite a bit with sections that just seem to list name after name after name of people who occupied this office or that in an alphabet soup of organizations. It’s not James Bamford’s fault, but what is really needed is a Puzzle Palace 2.0, which picks up on the government funding of Google in the 1990s and follows through the establishment of the 1.5 million square foot NSA Data Center in Utah. (4 of 5 Stars)


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