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
Neal is unquestionably a master of words and prose. Too bad get easily carried away. There were way too many unnecessary deviations to the main story that honestly just demotivated me. But it was definitely a cool book.
It is difficult to chose one element. This story mixes social and scientific ideas with a World War II war story, cryptology and the world of tech startups in pacific asia, along with many digressions along the way. Somehow Neal Stephenson manages to make it work seamlessly.
The thing that sets this book apart is how Neal Stephenson manages to incorporate both complex scientific ideas in great detail, to the point where you might be able to implement a simple crypto system after reading this book, but also complex social ideas. E.g. there's a wonderful scene where one of the main characters - a nerdy programmer type - is present at a meetup of leftist social science and literary types about technology and the "information super high way" (aka. the internet), and it is honestly quite funny.
I'm not sure. All three of protagonists and several of the supporting characters are all very interesting, well written and complex characters.
Dufris' narration is great. He is able to enhance the atmosphere of the wide ranging scenes and he brings the characters to life.
It made me laugh on several occasions.
Felt confused a bit as I went to different points in history with apparent flashbacks to give the planned 'oh so that's what they did'. Overall very good. Reader was great. I preferred baroque cycle series.
a tough one to follow for the casual listener. lots of jumps back and forth from character to character and time to time with no apparent relation for the 1st 1/3 of the book. Good story though.
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