NPR Story
1:36 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

The 'Codebreaker' Who Made Midway Victory Possible

The attack on Pearl Harbor 70 years ago this December set in motion a series of battles in the Pacific between the Japanese and the United States. The turning point in the Pacific came in June of 1942, when the U.S. surprised and defeated the Japanese fleet in the Battle of Midway.

That decisive victory was possible, in large part, because of the work of a little-known naval codebreaker named Joe Rochefort. His work deciphering codes revealed the details of when and how the Japanese planned to attack and handed a tremendous advantage to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

NPR's Neal Conan speaks with journalist and historian Elliot Carlson, whose new book, Joe Rochefort's War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway, gives an in-depth account of Rochefort's life and career in the Navy, his unsuccessful efforts to find the Japanese fleet before Pearl Harbor and, ultimately, his redemption at Midway.

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