Listed as one of the essential 50 books of all time in The Guardian
Inspired the Academy Award-nominated film, The Imitation Game
It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades--all before his suicide at age forty-one. This classic biography of the founder of computer science, reissued on the centenary of his birth with a substantial new preface by the author, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life.
A gripping story of mathematics, computers, cryptography, and homosexual persecution, Andrew Hodges's acclaimed book captures both the inner and outer drama of Turing's life.Hodges tells how Turing's revolutionary idea of 1936--the concept of a universal machine--laid the foundation for the modern computer and how Turing brought the idea to practical realization in 1945 with his electronic design. The book also tells how this work was directly related to Turing's leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II, a scientific triumph that was critical to Allied victory in the Atlantic. At the same time, this is the tragic story of a man who, despite his wartime service, was eventually arrested, stripped of his security clearance, and forced to undergo a humiliating treatment program--all for trying to live honestly in a society that defined homosexuality as a crime.
©2012 Andrew Hodges (P)2012 Audible Ltd
Alan's life is an incredibly interesting story in many different facets, in his genius and foresight, his place in British society, and how his story affected the thinking of the day.
His link between the US and UK during WWII has much more than would be expected. He was the only connection for intelligence and he did it in a very unorthodox way that was successful.
He uses several different voices for a few characters and delivers the story in a meaningful way.
No, there are slow parts when he gets into very technical mathematical theories and problems.
Any of the Enigma books
Brit accent, but well done
Much background of the science of code breaking thru the war. He does a good job of describing the world and scientific situation at points during Turing's life. Very wordy but good words.
Alan Turing was the most significant scientific mind of the 20th century, so were his accomplishments. I want to know as much as possible about this great mind. To say that this is too long and too detailed is idiotic. The narration is top notch and worthy of the subject. It is a tragedy for the human race that this great mind was crushed by ignorance and arrogance. If given his full life his accomplishments and the benefits to scientific knowledge would have matched or exceeded Einstein.
If there was an abridged version, I would recommend it more. As a general rule, I like long books. In fact it is one of my search criterion. But this is the rare book that would have been better if it were about half as long.
A good read, one that presents the man, as well as the society in which he lived. The entire story is embedded in the mathematical models & theories, that Turing was dealing with at that moment in his life.
The Narrator did a good job although there were a couple of hiccups.
There was one chapter on cryptography and I found it fascinating...
It's a very slow moving book, and I felt comfortable being able to pop in and out as I wished.
The most? - The WWII intelligence work.
The least? - The chapters and chapters of math and logic theory...
Could have been more in keeping with the author's compassion...
So much more than you can even imagine!
I love this book, but I would probably have edited it down by half...
The story is great but the author gets too into the technical specifications of the machines. It is very much like Herman Melville, you have to weed through the hours of dribble to get to the good story.
Listen while I work, ride, drive & run.
Disturbing, haunting, tantalizing. Excellently read. Worthy of multiple reads. Film imitation game a tasty sample only. Consume both if you dare.
The overall performance is actually very good, but if you read the book along with the audio, you'll see that on numerous occasions a word is misread aloud changing the overall meaning of a sentence or making the sentence completely unintelligible.
Summarizes the loss of a superb intellect to senseless homophobia. In his tragically shortened life, Turing, together with John Von Neumann laid out the architecture still used in all computers today. Where might we be today if this man had lived out a full lifespan?
"To much for a leisure listener!!"
I saw the movie which was brilliant and was left wanting more. I'm afraid this book didn't give it. There were just too many lists of mathematics and not much story. My husband told me he just skipped huge chunks. I didn't do that because I wanted the story to flow. But I'm afraid I just gave up. I'm still interested in his story so maybe a less Mathematical one would be more to my liking!!
"Great performance. Major flaw in the story."
The bits I understood were very well written. But the huge chunks of mathematics left me totally floundering. I'm not a scientist nor am I much good at maths. I very nearly gave up on this book during the maths parts.
The book is excellently narrated by a gent with a very commanding yet soothing voice. His American accent leaves a lot to be desired though :-)
All in all, if you don't mind zoning out from the tech stuff, or you understand it, then it's a good listen.
"A unique story"
This is a unique story. A man who changed the course of WW2 and who invented computer science. A man treated disgracefully by 1940s 1950s Britain.
"Two parts dry dissertation one part human struggle"
Technical detail inhibited the flow of the real story The struggle of genius in a manners dominated society was compelling painting the picture of how privilege coccooned Turing whilst controlling his engagement with an evolving world.
I would recommend the early narrative as a window into the intellectual dominance of Private Schools and consequent political power.Latter details on evolution of mathematical thought was too dry and protracted for my taste.This was a problem of my own making.
Business like, clipped ,concerned.
Glad I chose the book as a convincing commentary of manners and society. Less enthralled by Dusty theoretical constructions.
Ultimately charts the victory of intolerance over ascetic devotion.
"If you enjoyed the film"
As so often the book explores what Alan Turing's life meant so much more deeply than the film made in 2014. It also provides great insight into how British life changed during the first half of the twentieth century and allows us to see how society has developed in the last 60 years.
Bit tough to follow in the middle but gives a very through account of Alan Turing's life.
It was a great listen, I just felt it was 10 hours too long. There were quite a few moments where I felt this part of the story doesn't need to be told.
"amazing insight into a true genius."
what a great man. A shame he did not live to see and experience how respected he now is.
"More than a little tiresome"
Turing Book by Andrew Hodges. Great read if you survive the first ten hours. The title of the film is explained about this point.
The information for readers failed to mention that the book incorporates an unabridged account of Andrew Hodges' Oxford courses which although excellent of their sort are not a patch on Jim Al-Khalili's programmes on the BBC. One gem is the explanation of the tittle of the film of the book "The Imitation Game" which greatly enhanced my memories of the film. The accounts of the intelligence services in the UK during the first forty odd years of the 20th century are a revelation and worthy of greater exposure. The events surrounding the sinking of the aircraft-carrier Glorious were not far short of criminal. The lack of knowledge in the lead up to the Dunkirk equally embarrassing. The very much better position of France, Poland and Norway staggering. One of the most interesting features of the story is the role happenstance and pure luck that fortunately contributed to the British success. Although the account of Turing's life after the war is interesting Hodges' expositions on Turing's papers and philosophy more than a little tiresome.
"Great scholarship, but not a great audio book"
No, not even if the friend wanted to know everything there is to know about Turing. It just doesn't feel focused enough. A lot of the time, it's about Turing's work, rather than his life, or the work of someone who knew him, or the work of someone who did related stuff, such as Charles Babbage. There's nothing wrong with that, but...
A lot of the work described is mathematics, and cryptology, both of which interest me immensely (I've studied both with the Open University) but as a linear spoken description without diagrams, I found it a bit blah and hard to follow. Heaven knows what people with a casual (or no) interest in these subjects would make of it!
Then there's the metaphors, and allusions to works of literature. I couldn't make head or tail of the references to the characters in the Alice books, and these are characters I know well!
Then there's Turing's trip to the Land of Oz. This is not the fictional country that features in L. Frank Baum's series of novels, nor is it the colloquial name for Australia - it is in fact America. It's not clear if it's Turing or the author who thinks of America as Oz.
Greatly abridge the "work of" parts; instead of trying to cram it all in, just tell us the relevant-to-Turing stuff, and perhaps suggest a "for further study" for those of us who want a complete-with-diagrams explanation of how an Enigma machine works.
Occasionally remind us who characters are when they haven't been mentioned for the past six hours. It is, after all, practically impossible for the listener to check back.
Make adaptations appropriate to the change of medium. There's one bit that goes on about the umlaut in the person's name - perhaps you could tell us which person, and which letter the umlaut appears with!
And abridge the stuff after Turing's death. Keep the facts in, but the endless stream of metaphors come across as platitudes.
Dear lord no. In the early years he gave Turing a little boy's voice which had me saying aloud, "I hope he grows up soon!" Often it was hard to tell at first if something was the author's text, something Turing himself had said, or a commentary from someone else. I'd suggest taking a leaf from Richard Dawkins' Selfish Gene for clarity in this area.
I want to know more about Bletchley, and I did in fact download an audiobook on the topic, but I'll probably concentrate on paper books.
As a lecturer in computer programming, I feel better equipped to do my job. I certainly have a better appreciation of computers than I did.
Whilst not the most enjoyable audiobook, it is in places very edifying. It does give a sense of what the British were up against during the war, and how little regarded "those do-nothings at Bletchley Park" were at the time. Being a gay man wasn't a barrel of laughs back in Turing's day, but I doubt anybody will be surprised by that. More shocking was the use of "corrective" chemicals on males as young as 14, and how it was accepted that you didn't need the subject's consent.
In short, the book was not much fun but I am glad I persevered. Next up, something frivolous...
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