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
I loved Snow Crash and was looking forward to another book from Neal Stephenson. Unfortunately many of his books are nothing like Snow Crash. There is little to nothing in his plot that makes me care about the characters, at all. I muscled my way through SevenEves and tried this book as well. I don't think there are any more books from this author that are worth my time.
The narrator in Cryptonomicon falls short of bringing this book alive to the listener. To be fare, I'm not sure whether it was due to a poor performance or the complete lack of interesting content.
I wish I could give this book no stars!
After delving into Stephenson's work, moving backwards entirely by accident (Seveneves, Anathem, now Cryptonomicon), I can confidently say he is one of my favorite authors.
Cryptonomicon is an utterly engaging, thoughtfully arranged, and brilliantly characterized work of historical/speculative fiction. The level of knowledge and passion with which he writes about subjects which would otherwise seem mundane is consistently impressive. He is able to make number theory and its impact on the development of cryptographic systems read like prose. A listener or reader with even the most remote interest in mathematics, technology, or just history will feel more than satisfied with how it is served. I learned a lot of things about a lot of different subjects from this book; geography, foreign culture and politics, geology, mathematics, number theory, computer encryption, etc. Stephenson is a vastly knowledegable writer and it shows readily, without ever feeling remotely dry, patronizing, or as if you are being lectured.
The story itself is told masterfully, jumping between characters and time periods with perfect pacing, so that no single scenario ever feels drawn out. Each time a chapter turned, I was simultaneously eager to return to the previous character to know what happens next, but overjoyed at the return to the character in the new chapter. All of the characters are connected in subtly realistic but vastly important ways, and all of their interactions feel perfectly human, and they come alive in the reader's mind. After reading the synopses for The Baroque Cycle and learning that Cryptonomicon characters' ancestors are involved, I'm excited to start listening to the series. I cannot say enough good things about this novel.
On top of all of this is William Dufris's narration. I became a huge fan of his narration with Anathem, and was further impressed in Cryptonomicon. His speech is perfectly paced, and he lends each character a distinct and consistent voice which feels perfectly suited to their demeanor and personality. Should Stephenson release another novel soon, I nominate Dufris to read it for Audible.
Narrator was too annoying, with characters voices. Seemed like it was forced especially with the Marine. If he did not try to act out every character it may have been better. Could not finish.
I don't usually give up on books I paid for, but this one was terrible. I'm pretty sure the main character suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and that might have had something to do with the narrative. I was optimistic that it might change with a new time period and new narrator. Once the author started in on the most bizarre collection of metaphors describing the scenery in a style of prose that would make even Tolkien say "Dear God, man, that's enough already!" I lost patience with it and gave up. Maybe it gets better. I'll leave that for other people to decide because I am over it.
This book is really fantastic, there are a lot of details that are included that weren't widely know by in the late 90s or even early 2000s. Even with the age of the book the concepts and ideas still hold up and help support a great story spanning 3 generations.
As this story slowly, eloquently unwound, I became more and more reminded of Thomas Pynchon's masterpiece, Gravity's Rainbow. By the time Stephenson brought it to a golden end, he'd surpassed Pynchon. Dufris' magnificent narration of this story, saturated with characters of many nationalities, kept pace with the challenge.
Not my first Neal Stephenson book, but certainly my last.
Much, much better.
The narrator was great and did a fine job voicing the many characters.
Regret that I wasted a credit.
This book would have been fine if the author hadn't tried to turn a normal length novel into an epic tale. The amount of filler was truly astounding! A decent editor could have cut this book in half without hurting the plot. I was constantly waiting for points to be made while the author droned on and on. Then the book ended, not with a bang but with a fizzle.
This book left me exhausted, which is not how a book normally leaves me. It should be a variety of emotions and thinking about what I just read. When this book ended my only thoughts were "Thats it?!" and "At least it's over."
This book was a true waste of time and an utter disappointment.
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