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Cryptonomicon Audiobook

Cryptonomicon

Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century.
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Publisher's Summary

Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century.

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

What the Critics Say

  • Locus Award, Best Novel, 2000

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    phillalf 03-28-15
    phillalf 03-28-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Runs out of steam"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The ending! By the end book its clear that Neal Stephenson has run out of ideas and tries very unconvincingly to end it early.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The cryptographic detail is good but now dated.


    What about William Dufris’s performance did you like?

    Good clear dictions


    Any additional comments?

    Its too long and would have been better if the story had been simplified and a more comping ending to the plot constructed. Ending feels very rushed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Todd Sarasota, FL, United States 03-27-15
    Todd Sarasota, FL, United States 03-27-15 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Puzzles Within Puzzles"

    This book is story telling at its finest. Puzzles are layered within puzzles in a book about puzzles. The performance was outstanding! If you have an interest in ciphers you'll enjoy Cryptonomicon.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M Burlingame, CA, United States 02-21-15
    M Burlingame, CA, United States 02-21-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Chapters Are Out of Order: 2 and 3 switched."

    The audio chapters do not correspond to the book chapters, and they are out of order.

    Listen to Chapter 1, then Chapter 3, then Chapter 2, then Chapter 4.

    1, 3, 2, 4.

    I don't know if this pattern continues, because I haven't finished Chapter 4.

    My ratings are based on the first 3 1/2 chapters, plus "The Baroque Cycle."

    Note to William Dufris:

    I think the Filipino language Tagolog is pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Cowan 02-20-15 Member Since 2015

    Mostly like non fiction are tech, business and history. Like tech based fiction

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    "Excellent tale of hackers and WW2 history"

    This is my second Stephenson book having listen to Snow crash a few years ago. His increased skill as a writer is very evident , but retaining the signature light hearted tone. At 42 hours this a long story, but the tale Stephenson weaves is a long and intricate one. If you love detail this book contains lots of it on a vast number of themes. I loved the way he was able to meld together a story based on WW2 cryptology and a bunch of modern day hacker treasure hunters. Hang in there the story is worth it

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin Calgary, Alberta, Canada 02-19-15
    Robin Calgary, Alberta, Canada 02-19-15 Member Since 2014
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    "One of Stephenson's very best."

    Just finished listening to this a second time - something I rarely do. Cryptonomicon is so well written, and this audio so well narrated, that there are nuances stacked on nuances that I'll still be finding and enjoying on many subsequent listens. This really is one of his best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Hill 02-14-15 Member Since 2013
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    "I would not recommend this book"

    Struggled to finish it. Too much droning not enough action or substance. hard read too much jumping around.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doc Holiday Illinois 02-04-15
    Doc Holiday Illinois 02-04-15
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    "Very boring"

    This is my first Neal Stephenson book and probably my last. It was just incredibly boring. The narration was outstanding.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Welby Goodyear, AZ, United States 02-03-15
    Welby Goodyear, AZ, United States 02-03-15 Member Since 2015

    i saved a drab colored lizard who thrashed desperately in your makeshift bird bath this morning, around eight. he was beneath your notice.

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    "Never getting that time back."

    Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon" in Audiobook format is nearly 43 hours long. I'm fairly convinced that everyone who has recommended it to me over the years merely skim-read the print version. Thirty minutes was dedicated to explaining how one character eats Cap'N Crunch®. A single business email took 45 minutes. The prose is clever to the point of exhausting, but good golly this fellow needed an editor who wasn't afraid to use fisticuffs to settle disputes.

    I've never, ever said this before, but an abridged version might be considerably better than the original.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Perry USA 01-31-15
    J. Perry USA 01-31-15 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "History of tech. Turing, WW2, and a killer story"

    I've read and listened to this book many times now. I love the characters, history, and technology. Rare is it to find a book that can explain cryptography in an approachable way while being accurate and not overbearing. the two tracks of the story (one modern, one in the throws of WW2) are hilarious and nicely interleaved. I owe Neal Stephenson a beer (he signed my hardcopy!).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Delilah Boston, MA 01-24-15
    Delilah Boston, MA 01-24-15 Member Since 2013

    Dissonant Muse

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    "Like A Thousand Years of Solitude, for geeks"

    This book made me question my decision not to breed. A multi-generational journey into the sociology of genius.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • F Gibb
    Dumfries
    3/1/13
    Overall
    "Crypt-Enormicon!"

    I loved this book.

    Sure, it was massive. And I take what the other reviewers said about there being unneccessary diversions though the book.

    But the fact is that, despite its size, I didn't want it to finish. I love Neal Stephenson's style. He can capture a complicated mesh of emotions with a single sentence- sometimes a single word. His writing style is loose and very very funny. The story itself rambles around in a massively entertaining meander through the decades- but it gets you there in its own good time.



    I disagree with comments that it's so full of technical jargon that you need to have a degree, an anorac, or a specialist knowledge of Dungeons and Dragons esoterica to get it. All the technical stuff is explained for non-technical folks like me, and it's nearly always very daft, and very funny.



    It being funny and daft doesn't mean that it is without a moral compass. There is a strong 'under-story' that will, at times, capture your heart by creeping up while you're not expecting it, and getting in there by stealth. Neal S's writing style makes this happen seamlessly.



    A word for the narrator. He pulled the story along with a slick and beatifully timed delivery. Good at accents, so you know who's saying what. It's an understated delivery, but it's exactly how it should be. He presents the words without imposing himself onto them.



    However: This is not a life-changing book. It is enlightening, but never profound. It is a book that will entertain you rather than tranform you. You may think that 42hours (or 900+ pages) is too much of an undertaking merely to be entertained. I'd argue that you'll know whether you like it or not within the first hour of reading it- so the commitment is only until then. By the time Bobby Shafto and his team have knocked over the money carriers you should have an idea of whether you want to keep reading.



    So- go on. You've nothing to lose!

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Jonathan
    EdinburghUnited Kingdom
    2/7/10
    Overall
    "A milestone in fiction"

    Where to start...who but Neal Stephenson could write a book so epic in scope, seamlessly weaving a tale from the hayday of computing, WW2 wartime espionage and contemporary eCommerce underpinned by the fascinating field of cryptography. To call the book gripping is like describing the South Pole as "a bit nippy" Superlatives are rarely merited. In this case they are.

    15 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • Wras
    Kildonan
    4/22/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The many levels of understanding and deception"

    War is not just about bullets but concealment and secrecy, we are living proof of this reality, the the war on terror is fought in the networks and in communications and messages, in lies and half truth. This book works within all this elements but begins at beginnings of the second world war exposing what effect cryptography, Allied Codebreakers and tactical-deception had on the european and pacific fronts, and how those ideas changed our world. We are introduced two to sets of characters one set in WWII and the others in in the late 1990s this group is related through blood to the first ones and share some the interest of their relatives in cryptography and communications. We are exposed to history at its most brutal, and intelligent, some truly funny episodes and dialog mixed with high adventure, mathematics, ideas, philosophy, programing, geeks, super geeks, dentists, soldiers, submarines and lawyers. There are plots, subplots, ramblings and thoughts expounded in all seriousness and some just taking the piss.
    This is more than a book it is an experience. A work madness and genius; madness because of its reach genius because of it erudition and entertainment value.
    The reader manages to create voices for all the characters and move through the book with amazing ease. .

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • J Sinner
    Brussels, Belgium
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Excellent capture of the book"

    I first Cryptonomicon around 10 years ago, and find myself rereading it every couple of years. Part WW2 spy thriller, part modern day geek drama, part introduction to basic cryptography, it is all brain candy.



    On my last reread, I tried this audiobook version, and was extremely happy with how it captured both the tone and the charcters of the book.



    William Dufris tone and consistent delivery manage to capture the underlying humour and bring life to Neal Stephenson's baroque prose. He manages to evoke the different settings and characters through subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) use of accents



    I definitely recommend this.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Tom
    West Wickham, United Kingdom
    10/14/10
    Overall
    "wonderful if very long book"

    This is a superb book which I enjoyed listening too very much but it is not without flaws and peculiarities.

    To start with it is arguable that it is unnecessarily long. One or two reviewers on Amazon have suggested that the author could have done with a good editor, and there is some truth in that; in some places the detail is mind-boggling and quite difficult to follow, particularly in an audiobook. However, I confess that I liked the detail - it must appeal to the inner nerd in me I think - and I do like books that explore the byways of history away from the main road, as it were. And the storyline is satisfyingly complicated and hooks you in gradually; do stick at it as it improves a lot after the first section.

    Narration is excellent - indeed it makes the book. I do like William Dufris' style, amused and kinda laid-back, and he brings the book brilliantly to life, and his characterisations are perfect.

    Not everyone's cup of tea, I'm sure, but five stars for me.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Nik Hewitt
    Derbyshire, UK
    4/12/13
    Overall
    "Outstanding Translation of a Classic"

    I'd already read Cryptonomicon, a couple of times, prior to listening to it. I couldn't have been more pleased. Dufris captures the essence of this weighty journey admirably, and his intonation and studied understanding comes across with real heartfelt sympathy for the motley collection of characters and rich locations both historical and contemporary. I couldn't have been happier at the treatment of what I believe to be Stephenson's finest book.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Saul
    London, United Kingdom
    12/24/12
    Overall
    "Deep and technical, but accessible."

    Underneath all the cryptography and tech, Cryptonomicon has a great story with well rounded, modern characters. The original novel features graphs and diagrams to explain pretty technical topics like frequency counting and van eck phreaking, but you don't notice them missing in this audio book, as the narrator carries you along with the in depth descriptions while progressing the narrative.



    It's ensemble cast, split across two timeframes, provide plenty of variety, the occasional laugh, and lots of relatable geeks. It's a very long book, but it never drags. Once it's over, you want to find out what the characters are up to.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • M. Dawes
    Birmingham UK
    9/2/11
    Overall
    "Just genius"

    Like a piece of cryptography, patterns and associations begin to emerge the more you delve into this story. About two thirds of the way in, the disparate strands of the timelines and characters begin to come together in the most riveting way.

    Worth 40 hours of your life? - Absolutely.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Garethman
    7/10/11
    Overall
    "There is a good book somewhere"

    I really tried hard with this book. I listened to it for about 6 hours before I gave up. There is a good story in here somewhere, but the narrative is plagued with pointless epic similes that add little to the enjoyment and deviations leaving the listener wondering where they are in the tale. I wonder if the author was paid by the word count?

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Philip
    Piacenza, Italy
    6/20/10
    Overall
    "Great book"

    I really enjoyed Cryptonomicon. It's a dense story which requires the reader to involve themselves in a bit of brain work. Suprisingly, for an author who has a reputation as a cyberpunk I found the narrative of this book reminded me of authors such as Ken Kesey and predictably Joseph Heller. For some reason it reminded me alot of Kesey's 1992 book Sailor Song, which is hardly a bad thing.
    Only down point; about half way through Neal starts recounting a letter a character is writing for Playboy, which goes on wayyyy too long. Stephenson obviously enjoyed writing that part too much.
    Heartily recommended.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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