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History Lunch: “Legendary Codebreaker Elizebeth Friedman: Shakespeare, Smugglers and Spies” by G. Stuart Smith
January 8, 2020 –
Join us for a special history lunch, "Legendary Codebreaker Elizebeth Smith Friedman: Shakespeare, Smugglers, and Spies" presented by G. Stuart Smith. Sandwich lunch will be served. Rides are available for seniors in the town of Red Hook.
Protesters called it an act of war when the U.S. Coast Guard sank a Canadian-flagged vessel in the Gulf of Mexico in 1929. It took a cool-headed codebreaker solving a “trunk-full” of smugglers’ encrypted messages to get Uncle Sam out of the mess: Elizebeth Smith Friedman’s groundbreaking work helped prove the boat was owned by American gangsters.
Mrs. Friedman’s biographer, G. Stuart Smith, her grandnephew, traces the career of this legendary U.S. law enforcement agent, from her work prior to World War I when she was hired to try to find codes in Shakespeare’s writings that would prove someone other than the Bard was the author.
She continued her code breaking career in World War I and then hit her stride in Prohibition, when she faced danger from mobsters while testifying in high-profile trials. Friedman founded the cryptanalysis unit that provided evidence against American rum runners and Chinese drug smugglers.
During World War II her decryptions brought a Japanese spy to justice and her Coast Guard unit solved the Enigma ciphers of German spies. Friedman's "all source intelligence" model is still used by law enforcement and counterterrorism agencies against 21st-century threats.
G. Stuart Smith is a retired journalism professor and author of A Life in Code: Pioneer Cryptanalyst Elizebeth Smith Friedman (2017, McFarland).
This program is made possible with support from the Ascienzo Family Foundation.
Please call the library at 845-758-3241 to secure your spot.