In 1942, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse - mathematical genius and young Captain in the U.S. Navy - is assigned to detachment 2702. It is an outfit so secret that only a handful of people know it exists, and some of those people have names like Churchill and Roosevelt. The mission of Watrehouse and Detatchment 2702 - commanded by Marine Raider Bobby Shaftoe - is to keep the Nazis ignorant of the fact that Allied Intelligence has cracked the enemy's fabled Enigma code. It is a game, a cryptographic chess match between Waterhouse and his German counterpart, translated into action by the gung-ho Shaftoe and his forces.
Fast-forward to the present, where Waterhouse's crypto-hacker grandson, Randy, is attempting to create a "data haven" in Southeast Asia - a place where encrypted data can be stored and exchanged free of repression and scrutiny. As governments and multinationals attack the endeavor, Randy joins forces with Shaftoe's tough-as-nails grandaughter, Amy, to secretly salvage a sunken Nazi submarine that holds the key to keeping the dream of a data haven afloat.
But soon their scheme brings to light a massive conspiracy, with its roots in Detachment 2702, linked to an unbreakable Nazi code called Arethusa. And it will represent the path to unimaginable riches and a future of personal and digital liberty...or to universal totalitarianism reborn.
A breathtaking tour de force, and Neal Stephenson's most accomplished and affecting work to date, Cryptonomicon is profound and prophetic, hypnotic and hyper-driven, as it leaps forward and back between World War II and the World Wide Web, hinting all the while at a dark day-after-tomorrow. It is a work of great art, thought, and creative daring.
©1999 Neil Stephenson (P)2009 Macmillan Audio
After reading Stephenson's Seveneves and loving it, I thought I had found an author whose books I could consume for the next few months. That may still be the case, but Cryptonomicon is just way too slow for me.
After 14 hours, I'm giving up. The plot takes way too long to unfold, and the story is just too slow to drive a good listening pace, so I end up finding all kinds of excuses to avoid listening to this. Stephenson does a good job with character development, but there is only so much I want to know about a character before they do something interesting.
I was pretty disappointed with the narration as well. The accents, especially European, are good, but all the other characters are a little drab.
There are many good reviews for this book, and several friends recommended it as well, so I think my suggestion would be to try this as a read rather than a listen. That way, you may be able to accelerate through the slow parts and get to what seems to be a good concept.
Was really looking forward to this book, disappointed I ran out of steam, but I think a half day is enough slack to give an author & narrator before deciding whether another 20 hours of life is worth it. In this case, my answer is no.
A friend suggested this book by saying it was one of his all-time faves. I'm so glad that he did. Such rich storytelling and engaging writing. I can't recommend this book strongly enough. Truly one of the best that I've encountered on audible.
It was really long, and still I wanted more. Fantastic, suspenseful and educational. I will be in love with these characters for a long, long time.
Good book and aside from repeatedly mispronouncing words like "Tagalog" and "Golgotha," the narrator does a good job. The problem is that several pages or chapters are either in the wrong place in the audio, or are missing. As a result, this great and already complex story is hard to follow.
Seriously, this was a true breath of fresh air! What an amazing story. Neal did a great job weaving the past and past and present time periods. The dry sense of humor and characterization were wonderful. I HIGHLY recommend!
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