This is a gripping and page-turning thriller that explores themes of power, information, secrecy and war in the twentieth century. From the author of the three-volume historical epic 'The Baroque Cycle' and Seveneves. Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity ...
This is a gripping and page-turning thriller that explores themes of power, information, secrecy and war in the twentieth century. From the author of the three-volume historical epic 'The Baroque Cycle' and Seveneves. Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that have shaped the past century. He weaves together the cracking of the Axis codes during WWII and the quest to establish a free South East Asian 'data haven' for digital information in the present.
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Picked this earlier work up, after reading the first volume of Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. In the very fast-paced Cryptonomicon, he combines the recent history of codes and code-breakers with a unique interpretation of the present World Wide Web, and a prophetic (1999) view of a future in which ordinary citizens seek to protect their data from the prying eyes of governments. Scenes with a nerdy tech set alternate with those of battles and treasure hunters. Definitely gets the imaginative juices rolling.
Feb 5, 2009
A brilliant piece of genius
Cryptonomicon is a stunning masterpiece, well worth the time it will take to read (and digest) the over 900 pages it fills.
The book is divided into two time periods -- World War II, and the current day (which appears to be right around the turn of this century). In WWII, there are several different characters, each operating independently though all crossing each others path -- an American code breaker, an American Marine and a Japanese soldier. In the present, we mainly follow Randy and Avi, two software entrepreneurs heading to the Philippines to set up The Crypt, a project the reader slowly learns about through the course of their story. Along the way, real life characters such as Albert Einstein, Alan Turing, Ronald Reagan and Douglas MacArthur make cameos.
To say that this is a complicated book is an understatement, and yet Neal Stephenson makes it incredibly engaging, funny and consistently brilliant. As but one example, he writes four or five pages on how the chain on a bicycle wheel operates -- and it is only when he breaks from that narrative to point out that it's similar to how the German Enigma machine worked that I realized I'd just read five pages about a bicycle chain. It's incredible, and a book that -- given even more free time -- I'd easily read again.
Jun 24, 2007
Very nicely written story wrapping the internet and World war 2. It was a very believable story that worked very well.
Publishers Weekly, 1999-03-22 Big, complex and ambitious, the new cyber-thriller from the talented author of Snowcrash and The Diamond Age calls to mind Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow in its intense, paranoid evocation of conspiracies and secret histories. Set in part during WWII, Stephenson's novel concerns Lawrence Waterhouse, mathematical genius, a friend of Alan Turing and, like Turing, a code breaker extraordinaire. Assigned to the super-secret Detachment 2702, Waterhouse is instrumental in the Allied plot to keep the Nazis unaware that their fabled Enigma code has been broken. Almost as a sideline, he helps trigger the computer age. Nearly 60 years later, Waterhouse's grandson Randy, a computer hacker with a knack for cryptanalysis, is attempting to create a high-tech data haven in Southeast Asia, only to discover that a variety of governments, multinationals and shadowy secret organizations want a piece of his company's action. Uncovering evidence of a long-dormant conspiracy with its roots partly in his grandfather's work in cryptology, Randy eventually discovers that enormous amounts of war gold are involved, enough not just to make him and his fellow hackers wealthy but to change the entire economy of the planet. This fast-paced, genre-transcending novel is full of absorbing action, witty dialogue and well-drawn characters. Amazingly, it is also, even at its tremendous length, only the first volume in what promises to be one of the most extravagant literary creations of the turn of the millennium?and beyond. Major ad/promo; author tour. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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