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Cryptonomicon zooms all over the world, careening conspiratorially back and forth between two time periods--World War II and the present. Our 1940s heroes are the brilliant mathematician Lawrence Waterhouse, cryptanalyst extraordinaire, and gung ho, morphine-addicted marine Bobby Shaftoe. They're part of Detachment 2702, an Allied group trying to break Axis communication codes while simultaneously preventing the enemy from figuring out that their codes have been broken. Their job boils down to layer upon layer of deception. Dr. Alan Turing is also a member of 2702, and he explains the unit's strange workings to Waterhouse. "When we want to sink a convoy, we send out an observation plane first.... Of course, to observe is not its real duty--we already know exactly where the convoy is. Its real duty is to be observed.... Then, when we come round and sink them, the Germans will not find it suspicious."
All of this secrecy resonates in the present-day story line, in which the grandchildren of the WWII heroes--inimitable programming geek Randy Waterhouse and the lovely and powerful Amy Shaftoe--team up to help create an offshore data haven in Southeast Asia and maybe uncover some gold once destined for Nazi coffers. To top off the paranoiac tone of the book, the mysterious Enoch Root, key member of Detachment 2702 and the Societas Eruditorum, pops up with an unbreakable encryption scheme left over from WWII to befuddle the 1990s protagonists with conspiratorial ties.
Cryptonomicon is vintage Stephenson from start to finish: short on plot, but long on detail so precise it's exhausting. Every page has a math problem, a quotable in-joke, an amazing idea, or a bit of sharp prose. Cryptonomicon is also packed with truly weird characters, funky tech, and crypto--all the crypto you'll ever need, in fact, not to mention all the computer jargon of the moment. A word to the wise: if you read this book in one sitting, you may die of information overload (and starvation). --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Enoch Root is a wonderful character and should be central to a follow-up. There are a few great scenes and a lot of other stuff.Published 2 days ago by G. P. Aigen
I traded a Marine a pack of cigarettes for this book in 2003, during the invasion of Iraq--and I was not in any way disappointed. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Caleb A. Keller
I loved Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash." Expecting something of the same type of cyber-punk thriller, I expectantly embarked on reading this tome of almost 1000 pages. Read morePublished 4 days ago by J Cather Weaver
Unnecessarily complicated. It seemed like a stream of conscious dump, and I was bored throughout.Published 6 days ago by Kellu
The 5 star rating is for those readers with a strong math/computer science background. If you lack that you won't appreciate fully the explanations of the processes that were used... Read morePublished 10 days ago by David Berkowitz
Amazing web of characters and fascinating interpretation of the WWII world of code breaking and espionage. Read morePublished 12 days ago by T Miller
If something seems like an aimless digression, you can bet it will come back to bite you later.Published 19 days ago by Chris Lewis
It took some time, about fifty pages, to understand where this book was going but then it flew. Back and forth in historical time exploring code and engineering and family and... Read morePublished 19 days ago by RARE RATER