Book Review

Body of Secrets

James Bamford
Doubleday Press, 2001 (721 pp)


This is a sequel to Bamford's famous book,The Puzzle Palace, about that big glass building over by the BWI airport, the National Security Agency (NSA). Unlike some other recent books like Battle of Wits or Simon Singh's The Code Book, Bamford's Body of Secrets is not just a rehash of well-known stories about Enigma and Bletchley Park. but is skilled reporting, containing previously-unknown insights such as:

These revelations will undoubtedly upset a great many people. The book goes into amazing detail, up to and including the room and desk drawer at NSA in which documents concerning these events are hidden. Even though the book has 612 references, the citations are inexplicably omitted from the body of the text, making the book seem more like a novel than a well-researched historical report. Although the author is more of a reporter than a historian, this book contributes to our understanding of recent history and of the NSA and is certainly destined to become as big a best-seller as his previous book. However, the unsubstantiated claims he makes in this book raise troubling questions about the author's journalistic objectivity.