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The Code Book : The Secret History of Codes and Code-Breaking Paperback – April 30, 2002
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- Item Weight : 10.2 ounces
- Paperback : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1857028899
- ISBN-13 : 978-1857028898
- Product Dimensions : 5.08 x 0.98 x 7.8 inches
- Publisher : Harpercollins Pub Ltd; (Reissue) Edition (April 30, 2002)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #436,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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What's great is that encryption still hasn't moved on much since the book was written so it is still very relevant. The discussion about quantum computers and quantum encryption is great introduction to stuff that is becoming a reality today.
This book gives much appreciated context to the array of cryptographic techniques and frames them in a captivating narrative. It highlights the tremendous lengths and difficulties people went through to develop the techniques that we today take for granted; the latter is particularly satesfying for a student feeling overwhelmed by some of the course material.
Over all, this book motivated me in my studies of both cryptography and math. Highly recommended.
- Provides fascinating stories that put a historical backdrop to the topic of cryptography.
- Explains with remarkable simplicity the mathematical concepts behind each sample.
- Makes the reader almost ache to try-these-at-home.
- Is a difficult book to set aside.
Top reviews from other countries
I am not expert in this subject, why is why I read the book, but as far as I can see it gives an excellent overview. The only possible caveat is that dates of recent advances tend to be in the late 1990s, so it may be that further major developments have occurred after it was published. But since the end point is quantum computing that does not seem likely.
Simon Singh has explained a difficult subject with admirable clarity.
There are a selection of coded messages at the back for you to try out your new code-cracking skills if you like.
'The Code Book' is equally well written and equally enjoyable and covers the history of code making and code breaking from ancient Egypt up until the budding development of quantum cryptography.
Simon Singh handles the material in an extremely readable way whilst the introduction of Alice, Bob and Eve (Eve is determined to read the secret messages being exchanged between Alice and Bob) adds a delightful touch to the story. He also deals in some length with the ground-breaking wartime work at Bletchley and with the subsequent development of the first genuine electronic computer (well before the Americans).
As I read the book I was also reading, in bed and on my Kindle, Sinclair McKay's intriguing and insightful book The Secret Life of Bletchley Park: The History of the Wartime Codebreaking Centre . The two books complement each other beautifully and I found Simon McKay's insight into the life at Bletchley was of enormous value in fleshing out Simon Singh's story. The earlier book by Ronald Lewin Ultra Goes to War is a useful but much earlier reference work.
The final section in 'The Code Book' deals with the possibility of developing a quantum-based computer. This has recently taken a step forward and a Google search will quickly take you to a Canadian company's website who are apparently in a position to supply you with a development system. The only possible problem (forgetting the undisclosed cost) is that the superconducting 128 qubit processor chip is housed inside a cryogenic system within a 10 m² shielded room...
Read and enjoy 'The Code Book'. It's a fascinating story.
Update, December 7th 2012
I've just received a copy of Simon Singh's 'The Cracking Codebook' but, unfortunately, it's nothing more than a virtually identical (less the chapter on quantum computing) copy of 'The Code Book'.
Don't be taken in - even though second hand copies of 'The Cracking Codebook' will cost you the princely sum of £0.01 plus postage...