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2017 Selection: "CODE GIRLS" by LIZA MUNDY

Greenwich Reads Together is a community-wide reading experience which seeks to engage all of Greenwich in exploring a single book, and through reading and discussion to build community connections. The Steering Committee leading this effort includes Greenwich Library, Greenwich Arts Council, Greenwich Historical Society, and the Greenwich Public and Independent Schools.

Visit the website www.greenwichreadstogether.org to find book, film and music suggestions for further explorations, as well as discussion guides, links to the author and much more.

What is Greenwich Reads Together?
About this Year's Selection

Recruited from settings as diverse as elite women’s colleges and small Southern towns, more than ten-thousand young American women served as codebreakers for the U.S. Army and Navy during World War II. While their brothers, boyfriends, and husbands took up arms, these women went to the nation’s capital with sharpened pencils–and even sharper minds–taking on highly demanding top secret work, involving complex math and linguistics. Running early IBM computers and poring over reams of encrypted enemy messages, they worked tirelessly in a pair of overheated makeshift code-breaking centers in Washington, DC, and Arlington, Virginia, from 1942 to 1945. Their achievements were immense: they cracked a crucial Japanese code, which gave the U.S. an acute advantage in the Battle of Midway and changed the course of the war in the Pacific Theater; they helped create the false communications that caught the Germans flat-footed in the lead-up to the Normandy invasion; and their careful tracking of Japanese ships and German U-boats saved countless American and British sailors’ lives.

Through extensive archival research and numerous interviews conducted with the surviving code girls (now in their nineties), Mundy has constructed a dazzling narrative that expertly conjures up the war years–the battles abroad and the uncertainty and excitement on the home front. Mundy hones in on the lives and labors of several exemplary code-breakers, including Ann Caracristi and Agnes Driscoll, while providing a broader portrait that celebrates the entire cohort of talented women, whose top secret has went without public recognition for nearly seventy years. She expertly weaves the story among the larger events of the war and the daily activities of the codebreakers, anchoring the story to the figure of Dot Braden, a schoolteacher recruited by the Army, who–before her arrival at Arlington Hall–had scarcely left Virginia (Dot is still living today at age 96 and open to doing limited publicity alongside Mundy). For many of these young women, breaking codes was one of the most thrilling times of their lives: they were engaged in stimulating, truly essential work–enjoying challenges and opportunities that had never been open to them before—while, in many cases, getting their first taste of big city life, falling in and out of love, amid the excitement and heartbreak of wartime...

For more information about the book, suggestions for further reading, interviews with the author, reviews and more, visit www.greenwichreadstogether.org.

In conjunction with this year’s GRT selection, GAC will be presenting:

“How Women’s creativity is too often challenged and written out of history” 
A discussion sponsored by The Greenwich Pen Women

Thursday, November 15, 6 to 8PM
at the Greenwich Arts Council - Meeting Room 
299 Greenwich Avenue - Second Floor

Using "Code Girls" by Liza Mundy as an inspirational source, GAC presents "How Women's Creativity Is Too Often Challenged and Written Out of History", a discussion sponsored and led by The Greenwich Pen Women. As an extension to the CREATIVE WOMEN exhibition at The Bendheim Gallery, this discussion will focus on the trials and tribulations of the creative process, encountered by professional female writers, artists and composers.

Admission is FREE, but reservations are required by November 9, for more information or to RSVP, please contact GAC at 203.862.6751 or gallery@greenwicharts.org