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Cryptonomicon | [Neal Stephenson]

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

4.2 (2213 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Mary 05-02-12
    Mary 05-02-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    87
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    "A fun read"

    This story is a tale of fantasy, both past and present--what you'd like to imagine life will be, but it never is. Fun to read (listen). Unexpected twists. When he ties it all up at the end, you just have to smile.

    The math/crypto explanations get a little tedious - nothing to explain unless you missed high school math - but the characters are unusual, interesting, and a bit wacky.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra B 04-23-12
    Debra B 04-23-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Performance
    Story
    "It was all about the 'tude"
    Any additional comments?

    The narrator did a great job making the most of the abundant irony/sarcasm/humor that abounds in this book. I've never read anything by Neal Stephenson before because I am not totally into all the tech stuff, but after this book, I will again. Just first let me rest for a few months - this book moves at a maniac pace.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kauaijim Lihue, HI, United States 03-18-12
    Kauaijim Lihue, HI, United States 03-18-12 Member Since 2005
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    "Totally entertaining"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Cryptonomicon to be better than the print version?

    I read it a few years ago and have recently listened to the Audible edition . Enjoyed the Audible experience more. Not better, just different.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Cryptonomicon?

    Waterhouse with Turing at IAS.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Bobby's many adventures are all great.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Bobby reunites with Goto on baseball field.


    Any additional comments?

    Neil Stephenson is one of the most creative writers of the last fifty years.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Graton, CA, United States 02-08-12
    Jeff Graton, CA, United States 02-08-12 Member Since 2010

    Sixty years young. Surfer, Kayaker, Abalone diver, Backpacker. Rabid reader/listener. I love Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

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    "My favorite book of all time"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Cryptonomicon to be better than the print version?

    Yes, the characters become so much more alive in the audio format. I love the print edition, but the audiobook is richer .


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Can't choose just one:Bobby Shafto, flawed determination, horny junkie. Both Waterhouse men( Lawrence,Randy) nerds as men of action. America Shafto, the woman of my dreams! Enoch Root, comic immortality, morality. Goto Dengo, just all around great character.
    The U-boat Kapitane is killer too.


    Which character – as performed by William Dufris – was your favorite?

    Bobby Shafto


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Both many times.


    Any additional comments?

    Some tough sections to get through early in the book where the math gets a bit deep but worth the effort. a masterpiece

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Grand Rapids, MN, United States 01-10-12
    Paul Grand Rapids, MN, United States 01-10-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Good read not to long"

    Good characters fast moving fun you get to know the players you want to and not the lesser ones. Paul T.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pat Odem, TX, United States 01-03-12
    Pat Odem, TX, United States 01-03-12 Member Since 2011
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    "math & deciphering"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Make it into two or even three books.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Different voices for different characters.


    Have you listened to any of William Dufris’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    NO.


    Was Cryptonomicon worth the listening time?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    I did sleep through some of it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MPITA S.E. Wisconsin 10-25-11
    MPITA S.E. Wisconsin 10-25-11 Member Since 2007
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    "Hugely entertaining and pretty friggin' funny too"

    Only halfway through book but have to say this is one of the best audio books so far (out of about 50 or 60) that I've heard. I've listened to Snow Crash and was looking for something similar from this book. There's two stories running concurrently - one during World War 2 and another in relatively current time and I assume they will intersect. By the end of the book I may have a different view on the story but I'm having quite a bit of fun along the way. Lots of pithy humor, most of it pretty funny and delivered perfectly. There's a lot of 'nuts and bolts' stuff about encryption and theory dispersed through the first part of the book and if you're not into learning as you listen you may end up zoning-out during those parts.
    By the way, this is a really long book, good for me because I like 'em that way, bad for you if you're into short 'reads'.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    04-06-11
    04-06-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Better than I feared"

    Having been sometimes disappointed with previous re-reads (listens) of books I had really enjoyed in the past, I delayed getting this for some time. But this has been for me one of the most enjoyable audio books ever (and I have a few). Stephenson at his best. Well done all who were involved.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adrian Hammond, LA, United States 01-20-11
    Adrian Hammond, LA, United States 01-20-11
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    "Wonderful!!!"

    Great read. A great story with many interesting twists and turns. Great plot and story line.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Hayward, CA, United States 01-08-11
    William Hayward, CA, United States 01-08-11 Member Since 2004
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    "Captures the Spirit of World War II Code Breakers"

    I really have enjoyed Stephenson’s Science Fiction: Snow Crash, Anathem, The Diamond Age etc.
    Cryptonomicon is not Science Fiction. It is a look at past and current technology with the same eye that Stephenson brings to future and alien technology. I have a PhD in Astrophysics, and I know the history of the world war II code breakers, Alan Turing, and in general what math and science geeks are like. I think Stephenson captures the spirit of all of these very well.
    I had to wait years for this to come out unabridged in Audible, but I am glad that I waited. The reader is great as well and I can't think of anything I would have wanted left out in an abridged version. Every word is worth hearing.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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