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The Codebreakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet Hardcover – December 5, 1996
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"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.
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Well, I have read the bible, so it should be doable, and I am excited after reading the reviews and recommendations of this book.
I am going to assume that this is gonna be one to keep in my personal library. If cryptologi and its history and development cannot be explained in detail by a 1200 pages book, then the subject will seem to be beyond your average John Doe. I am a little above average so the odds are on my side.
The book was shipped in this small carton box without any damage to the paper cover which I am very pleased with.
Shipping was quick also.
Only down side is that its so heavy that I can't hold it up in bed at night, and when I fall asleep and it falls on my face, it hurts.
The book is not quite as strong when it starts to leave its subject area to more tangential material, and the writing occasionally takes on a more casual tone than one might expect, but overall the book is an outstanding accomplishment.
One could have a lot of fun learning and experimenting with these old methods of encryption, or just read the book for the stories. The book stops with IBM and the DES encryption, and there are many stories that could be written from that time to the present; probably for someone else to write.
Finally, I found some of these past stories have a striking parallel to current events such as Snowden exposing the NSA data collection and the resulting public reactions of politicians and the public. All-in-all a very enjoyable book.