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
Smart, funny, exciting. No other writer on earth can make math so interesting, and so thrilling. Love this book, and all the rest.
William Dufris ruined it for me, but Neal Stephenson didn't do him any favors. The story was choppy and cumbersome. Didn't make it through the whole thing. The story seemed predictable and corny.
By having John Lee or nearly anyone else do it. Oh yea, and not having a terrible story would help too.
From a performance perspective something delineating the change in time would have been a vast improvement. 1942 Pacific, 1942 England, Present day... anything to help orientate the listener.
I doubt it. There are two other books of his in my library, but as I look at them I have no memory of them which tells me I probably should have skipped this one too.
Perhaps additional people for the multitude of speaking parts. They all ran together.
Character? There is not enough character development to gain any feelings for any of them. And where are the women? As far as I can tell there are none... well maybe that is a woman in the "present day" part, but I am still trying to get through this thing and could not tell you her name. Apparently one person whose name I thought was Abby is a man.
How did this thing come up under mysteries? Oh I get it, the mystery is what is the plot? Apparently all of these story lines are going to come together... if I make it that far.
There is so much information packed into this novel that simply listening is not enough. I liked the story, the characters, even the style, but a year after completing it, I barely remember what I liked so much and find myself wishing I had taken notes on the mathematics, computations, inventions, history and cryptography. I remember really getting into the information and understanding everything. Now, I feel a bit like a student who didn't study and forgot everything for test. I will read/listen again, but this time I will take notes.
A busy Mum and Accountant. Listen to books while driving to work or sunbathing is my guilty pleasure.
I would listen to this story again.
I enjoyed how each generation story intertwined.
l'enfer c'est les autres
The author explains the math, the context, and the reality of breaking encryption schema and concentrates on the breaking of the Enigma code with its various players and the moving parts of WW II and relates that to a modern plan for finding a secret cache of gold in the Philippines.
The author even foreshadows the coming of digital currency. Overall, I would say the book is long, and live is short and one might be better served by listening to "Seizing the Enigma", by David Kahn and "The Second World War" by Anthony Beevor both books looks at the topics mentioned in this fictional book but does it in the guise of reality. Fiction can confuse me and this author's jumping between time periods led to my mind wandering. Non-fiction always stays on point (for me), but my wife much prefers fiction and this was a way for her to learn a lot about things she knows very little about.
I'm a huge fan of Stephenson and also of crypto and computer science. But this book was boring. Where in other Stephenson books I find the level of detail fascinating, in this book I wanted to fast forward. Several minutes describing how to eat cereal! Argh! I couldn't feel anything for the characters and thus even had trouble keeping track of all of them. A monumental work but if you are a fan of past scifi entries from Stephenson, don't expect the same from Cryptonomicon. I only barely made it through and was grateful it was over.
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