David Kahn

From Academic Kids

David Kahn is a US historian, journalist and writer. He has written extensively on the history of cryptography and military intelligence and related subjects.

Kahn's first book was The Codebreakers (1967), widely considered a definitive account of the history of cryptography, up to the early 1960s. In particular, the story of cryptography in World War II was still then effectively classified. The most recent edition, published in 1996, has an additional chapter surveying with less depth events and breakthroughs in cryptology since the first edition, such as the advent of public key cryptography and PGP. The Codebreakers was a finalist for the non-fiction Pulitzer prize in 1968.

David Kahn also wrote:

  • Plaintext in the new unabridged: An examination of the definitions on cryptology in Webster's Third New International Dictionary (Crypto Press 1963)
  • Cryptology goes Public (Council on Foreign Relations 1979)
  • Notes & correspondence on the origin of polyalphabetic substitution (1980)
  • Codebreaking in World Wars I and II: The major successes and failures, their causes and their effects (Cambridge University Press 1980)
  • Kahn on Codes: Secrets of the New Cryptology (Macmillan 1984) (ISBN 0025606409
  • Cryptology: Machines, History and Methods by Cipher Deavours and David Kahn (Artech House 1989) (ISBN 0890063990)
  • Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boats Codes, 1939-1943 (Houghton Mifflin 1991) (ISBN 0395427398)
  • Hitler's Spies: German Military Intelligence in World War II (Da Capo Press 2000) (ISBN 0306809494)
  • The Reader of Gentlemen's Mail: Herbert O. Yardley and the Birth of American Codebreaking (Yale University Press 2004) (ISBN 0300098464)

Kahn traces his interest in cryptography to reading Fletcher Pratt's Secret and Urgent as a boy. Kahn is a founding editor of the Cryptologia journal.

Kahn was awarded a doctorate (DPhil) from Oxford University in 1974. He worked as a reporter and an op-ed editor for Newsday until 1998, and journalism for a few years at New York University. In 1995, Kahn was selected as the scholar in residence at the National Security Agency.

Kahn lives (as of 2005) in Great Neck, Long Island, a suburb of New York. He has lived in Washington, D.C.; Paris, France; Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany; and Oxford, England. He attended Bucknell University as an undergraduate. After graduation, he worked as a reporter at Newsday for several years. It was during this period that he wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine about two defectors from the National Security Agency. This article was the origin of his book The Codebreakers]]. Subsequently, Kahn was the editor of the International Herald Tribune in Paris for two years in the 1960s. He has two sons, Oliver and Michael.

Quote

The multiple human needs and desires that demand privacy among two or more people in the midst of social life must inevitably lead to cryptology wherever men thrive and wherever they write. (from The Codebreakers quoted at Liberty-Tree (http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quotes.nsf/quotes5/13f92fbc0d20910085256e77000fa315))

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