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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

4.3 (3794 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Peter 07-06-15
    Peter 07-06-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    "Recommended"

    I wasn't sure about this one. It was my first book by Stephenson and it is a long one. It was very very good. I really enjoyed it. The performance was excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 07-06-15 Member Since 2016
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    6
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    "Voices"

    This narration would have been well served by additional readers, as the voices weren't consistent, and often not very well varied.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connor A. 06-24-15
    Connor A. 06-24-15 Member Since 2014
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    29
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    "Enjoyable story with brilliant technical descriptions"

    Stephenson has a great way of explaining very complicated concepts with interested and engaging descriptions or metaphors. This is an especially valuable quality in his writing while going through this book in audiobook form mostly during commutes or while carrying out other tasks because the absolute clarity prevents you from getting lost.

    The story was engaging, the characters were imaginative, and the voice is just humorous enough to make a topic that could have been extremely dense rather enjoyable. The narration did much to add to the personas built up in this novel as well. The Heller-esque roar of Shaftoe alone makes the performance and the book worthwhile.

    Having read this, I'm moving on to snow crash next. I'm looking forward to more by Stephenson!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Wells MODESTO, CA, US 06-14-15
    Steven Wells MODESTO, CA, US 06-14-15 Member Since 2016
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    "Fantastic"

    This book was fantastic as an audio book. I would recommend it to all :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barclay A. Dunn Clifton, New Jersey 06-10-15
    Barclay A. Dunn Clifton, New Jersey 06-10-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Great performance by William Dufris"

    I can't get through Stephenson in print but a friend recommended the audio book and it was absolutely great. I didn't see any other Stephenson titles narrated by Dufris, which is a shame - he's fantastic!

    I did feel the very end was slightly a let down and abrupt but it was a minor quibble.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vijay 06-09-15
    Vijay 06-09-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Sucks !! Worst book I hv read in audible so far."
    What would have made Cryptonomicon better?

    After more than 5 hrs of listening, I hv still no idea what the main story line is.
    The author should hv hv been more focussed in his thoughts, not rambled on endlessly.
    And the lousy narration made it even worse


    Has Cryptonomicon turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Cavano 06-05-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Even the digressions are entertaining"

    Okay this presentation purports to be very smart. And it is. Also very ironic and iconoclastic. And full of math-geek ruminations.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Olah 05-30-15
    Mike Olah 05-30-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Unredeamable dull"
    Would you try another book from Neal Stephenson and/or William Dufris?

    I was a huge fan of Neal Stephenson's Anathem (although it does dip in quality by the third act), and I tolerated William Dufris' grating narration. I also enjoyed The Diamond Age, but this book has me questioning if Stephenson is my cup-o-tea.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Neal Stephenson again?

    I only made it through this book on the good-will I had remaining from Anathem. That good-will is officially spent.


    What didn’t you like about William Dufris’s performance?

    The vocal affect that Dufris adopts whenever he's reading one of Stephenson's terrible jokes/snarky asides drives me up the wall.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Not particularly. The book is too dated to be all that interesting from a computer science point of view. There's some interesting parts about cryptology, but I think a non-fiction book on the subject would be more easy to get through.


    Any additional comments?

    Dull characters and a duller plot. Skip this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Virginia A Fite 05-19-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderfully Engaging"

    It's a long one, but I even though I listened once before years ago, I enjoyed every minute of this multi-faceted and multi-generational tale all over again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Liu Los Angeles, CA 05-11-15
    J. Liu Los Angeles, CA 05-11-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A very good reading of an excellent book."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    If you're already read Cryptonomicon, this audiobook is a good way to "re-read" it while you're on the go. Dufris does a great job with the narration, despite what other reviewers have said. I don't know what they expect, but Dufris does all the voices well. Accent, infection, tone, emotion. The biggest downside to the audiobook version is the lack of diagrams, maps and the problems inherent in listening to mathematical formulae and code-text instead of seeing it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Bobby Shaftoe. Crazy. Smart enough to do his job well, but not smart enough to understand it. Dufris does a great job with his voice, conferring the "ready for anything" nature of the character. Not how I voiced him in my head when I read it, but a great rendition.


    Any additional comments?

    Cryptonomicon is one of my favorite Stephenson novels. Dufris does a great job narrating it, about as good as can be expected given the source material, but overall, I believe it's a book better read than listened to.

    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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