"Few false ideas have more firmly gripped the minds of so many intelligent men than the one that, if they just tried, they could invent a cipher that no one could break," writes David Kahn in this massive (almost 1,200 pages) volume. Most of The Codebreakers
focuses on the 20th century, especially World War II. But its reach is long. Kahn traces cryptology's origins to the advent of writing. It seems that as soon as people learned how to record their thoughts, they tried to figure out ways of keeping them hidden. Kahn covers everything from the theory of ciphering to the search for "messages" from outer space. He concludes with a few thoughts about encryption on the Internet.
The Washington Post
Kahn has produced a tour de force...The volume is an anthology of a hundred detective stories, one more ingenious than the last, and all real, central to the fate of armies and kingdoms....Magnificent.The Christian Science Monitor
A literary blockbuster...for many evening of gripping reading, no better choice can be made than this book.Time
Perhaps the best and most complete account of cryptography yet published.The New York Times Book Review
A notable achievement...Mr. Kahn has presented the specialist and the general public with a lavishly comprehensive introduction to a subject of basic significance for both.
Prepublication National Security Agency Evaluation, now declassified The book in its entirelty constitutes the most publicly revealing picture that has ever been presented of U.S. Sigint activities and the agencies engaged in this field.