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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.
I think this may be the best S.F. novel I've every read. And I've read hundreds.
Entertaining, Educational, Inspirational, Hilarious at times, Remarkably deep insight... Read more
fascinating insight into WW Ii code breaking technology and psychology. Especially loved Bobby Shaftoe Marine character. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Steve Ryder
A very long story of essentially a treasure hunt (I think). World War II tosome time afterward. Somehow I missed the point.Published 14 days ago by Barry W. Brown
After 100 pages I got bogged in all the endless too-clever similes and threw it at the wall.Published 14 days ago by Dr. Adam J. Carr
This book has a deserved reputation as a great book, an undeserved reputation as a hard book to read. It's not. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Kristofer Carlson
I like how this book explores the continuity of the personalities of cryptographers of yesteryear turning to hackers of today. Read morePublished 19 days ago by M. J. McDonald
Great book. There are wild machinations! There are epic digressions! Classic Stephenson!
Really though, the narrative jumps deftly between characters without ever being... Read more