- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (August 29, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385495323
- ISBN-13: 978-0385495325
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 509 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography Paperback – August 29, 2000
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People love secrets. Ever since the first word was written, humans have sent coded messages to each other. In The Code Book, Simon Singh, author of the bestselling Fermat's Enigma, offers a peek into the world of cryptography and codes, from ancient texts through computer encryption. Singh's compelling history is woven through with stories of how codes and ciphers have played a vital role in warfare, politics, and royal intrigue. The major theme of The Code Book is what Singh calls "the ongoing evolutionary battle between codemakers and codebreakers," never more clear than in the chapters devoted to World War II. Cryptography came of age during that conflict, as secret communications became critical to both sides' success.
Confronted with the prospect of defeat, the Allied cryptanalysts had worked night and day to penetrate German ciphers. It would appear that fear was the main driving force, and that adversity is one of the foundations of successful codebreaking.
In the information age, the fear that drives cryptographic improvements is both capitalistic and libertarian--corporations need encryption to ensure that their secrets don't fall into the hands of competitors and regulators, and ordinary people need encryption to keep their everyday communications private in a free society. Similarly, the battles for greater decryption power come from said competitors and governments wary of insurrection.
The Code Book is an excellent primer for those wishing to understand how the human need for privacy has manifested itself through cryptography. Singh's accessible style and clear explanations of complex algorithms cut through the arcane mathematical details without oversimplifying. --Therese Littleton
"It would be hard to imagine a clearer or more fascinating presentation. . . . Mr. Singh gives cryptography not only its historical dimension but its human one." --The New York Times
"Entertaining and satisfying. . . . Offers a fascinating glimpse into the mostly secret competition between codemakers and codebreakers." --USA Today
"A good read that, bless it, makes the reader feel a bit smarter when it's done. Singh's an elegant writer and well-suited to the task of leading the mathematically perplexed through areas designed to be tricky." --Seattle Weekly
"An absorbing tale of codemaking and codebreaking over the centuries." --Scientific American
"Singh spins tales of cryptic intrigue in every chapter." --The Wall Street Journal
"Brings together...the geniuses who have secured communications, saved lives, and influenced the fate of nations. A pleasure to read." --Chicago Tribune
"Enthralling...commendably lucid...[Singh's] book provides a timely and entertaining summary of the subject." --The Economist
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This book doesn't read like most text books we find boring and mundane. I read it as if I was reading a fiction novel, which really helps with the comprehension of the topics presented. Ciphers and Codes presented in the book are explained very clearly, I'd almost dare say near perfectly. There are appendices mentioned where you can study items in further detail (in the back of the book).
This book, in my opinion, offers a rock solid foundation for those new to cryptology and can reinforce concepts for those that are well experienced.
I highly recommend this book, if you interested in cryptography, history, or science.
Simon Singh has produced a manuscript that not only gives one a deeper insight into the world of cryptanalysis from a historical prospective but also the men and women involved in this complex field of science through out the ages,----the brilliant people from various and varied walks of life who have contributed immensely to this science past and present . It covers the humanist aspect from those involved with their various idiosyncrasies of behavior from the selling of data to foreign powers as well as personal behavior that could cause one to be blackmailed by enemies. This book is a can of worms in many respects since it opens up to the reader a world fraught with possible invasion of privacy -one of the most fundamental rights we should all hold dear--especially in America--and what avenues we have at our disposal to solve these dilemmas.
The writing style Simon uses to explain the complex theories and problems that code breakers or code makers must use is exemplary and easily understood for the average layman--although he helps to have some advanced understanding of the sciences ---but it is not necessary in comprehending what the author conveys in this book.
I found the Appendix in the rear especially helpful in my study of the very basic science of cryptanalysis as well as his simple examples on how it all pieces together to form the whole picture.
Even though this book was written in 1999--- for those of us who are concerned about CURRENT EVENTS in this science the last chapter offers deeper insights and may be used as a springboard to investigate further developments of cryptanalysis and how we may apply it to our everyday life of sending emails, buying merchandize or researching various subjects. While the wide world of the internet has opened our vast horizons to knowledge and communications within a multitude of domains ---rest assure there is an army of cryptanalyst struggling to keep our messages and correspondence secure daily---or at least we HOPE THERE IS--or we may involve ourselves with political action to ensure our freedom of privacy?