albert March 20, 2017 5:09 PM


The doc is available from many sources. Search for:
. .. . .. — ….

Captain Ned March 20, 2017 7:21 PM

First I’ve seen of it (not that I was looking), but such a wonderful primary source.

CallMeLateForSupper March 21, 2017 9:22 AM


Read Bruce’s description again, carefully. This isn’t just a random copy of Herbert Yardley’s “American Black Chamber”, it is a copy (scans?) of the tome that was owned and “highly annotated” by William Friedman.

No other specimen(s) would have said annotations. I know my copy doesn’t.

albert March 21, 2017 11:36 AM


Furthermore, Friedmans annotations call into question many of Yardleys assertions, which is a polite way of calling him a liar.

Fascinating reading, nonetheless.

Was Yardley the Gregory Corso of his era?

. .. . .. — ….

Bear March 21, 2017 12:30 PM

Yardley was an executive, who sometimes attempted cryptanalysis, but in Friedman et al gets little credit for actual success in doing so. In the book he takes personal responsibility for many decryptions that were actually solved by others, lies a lot about the importance of the solutions, and writes a fair amount of fiction.

The book appears to’ve been annotated to serve in some kind of official capacity – as evidence, perhaps, or as part of an internal investigation into the amount of damage done and secrets compromised.

I’m not sure of it, because the index to the Friedman Files is difficult to use; but I think this document, with annotations, may be part of the Friedman Files, declassified by the NSA a few years ago and available by torrent. Magnet Link:


I’ve been reading mainly the patents-and-equipment section because I like WWII cipher machines, and the reports-and-research section because of the instructional materials on “classical” cryptography; If it’s there this would probably be under “publications” – I should have a look.

Nickie March 21, 2017 12:47 PM

@kevin: Maybe Norton considers it dangerous because it represents a thought crime to the Inner Party.

Bear March 21, 2017 1:42 PM

On inspection, this does not appear to be part of the Friedman Files.

The publications section does however contain most of the texts and lectures that formed the basis of military cryptography courses at that time.

David March 21, 2017 1:53 PM

Friedman wasn’t trying to be polite; the word “liar” appears first in his notes on page 8 of the PDF (unless you count the “Omnis Homo Mendax” on page 3 — “all men lie”, from Psalms 116:11) and many places thereafter.

Friedman’s opinion of Yardley and his book is summed up in his margin note on page 50: “Lies, lies, lies.”

The bookplate on page 4 is fantastic, and almost worth the 200MB download in itself.

Etienne March 21, 2017 6:18 PM

The main gist of the book, was that the USA was incompetent in communications security. To that end, he succeeds in an expose.

The actual details bore me.

When I was in the military, I was always amazed at the incompetence of clerks put in charge of technologists (officers put in charge of experienced men). Even when I was about to retire after 20 years, I would have some fresh officer off the college campus try and tell me I was doing “it” wrong.

The trick is to give them a puzzle or a comic book, and they will go off in a corner and amuse themselves, while the men work.

Harry Truman once got an order to not fire his artillery out of his sector. When he saw Germans massing on an opposing hill, he turned his guns and had the men fire and kill them all. He was later to find, that many officers did not, in fear of violating the order.

The order; however, violated the first rule of war – to win.

Ben F March 23, 2017 9:12 AM

Did Friedman also annotate The Education of a Poker Player? I always had the feeling that Yardley might have told a whopper or two in that book.

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