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American Experience: Codebreaker

Airs Monday, Jan. 11 at 9 p.m.

Elizabeth Smith Friedman

Based on the book The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies, The Codebreaker reveals the fascinating story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, the groundbreaking cryptanalyst whose painstaking work to decode thousands of messages for the U.S. government would send infamous gangsters to prison in the 1920s and bring down a massive, near-invisible Nazi spy ring in WWII. Her remarkable contributions to the science of cryptology would come to light decades after her death, when secret government files were unsealed. Together with her husband, the legendary cryptographer William Friedman, Elizebeth helped develop the codebreaking methods that laid the foundation for the National Security Agency (NSA).