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
Imaginative historical fiction. Stephenson painted a rich picture of the human side ww2 events.
The interaction of the fictional Bobby Shaftoe with the historical MacArthur reminds me of the best of Turtledove.
Dufris did a solid job of representing the characters.
The idea that our technology has somehow made us 'different' than the bright people of the past is strongly challenged by this book. Good writing of a good story. Slightly abrupt ending.
I loved the book, but the Audible version had a serious error. The Audible version is broken into ~1 hr 15 min audio chapters (not book chapters). These 2nd and 3rd of these audio chapters are out of order. I notified Audible of the problem, but I can see from other reviewers that they've done this before as well...several years ago.
The book has a great concept, but is just all over the place leaving the reader wondering where the last six months have gone and why the character is now in some other part of the world. There are too many stories going on and the author doesn't give enough time to each to help the reader connect the dots and follow each story without being jerked half way around the world as if the time it took to get there and any events in between never existed. I love long books, and this is one of those, but it is just missing the connective tissue that gives a story it's bones.
The ending is also just kind of a let down and the action leading up to the end is really just not worth the 40+ hours.
I really wanted to like this story, but it was definitely not for me. Gave up after a few hours and never looked back. Probably the worst book I have ever downloaded. I've had books I didn't like before, but this one just didn't make any sense.
This is a great story. But the narration, by the same narrator for Stephenson's Anathem, is largely out to lunch, with sort of bearable goofiness through the narrative parts of the book, but painful in the dialogue. It is really hard to understand what motivates narrators to lay Scooby Doo cartoon voices on perfectly well-realized human characters. You could make a case that Stephenson's Snow Crash is sort of a cartoon-character like book. But Cryptonomicon has much more fully developed and fascinating intellectual and emotional layers and real people in it, and it's too bad the narrator was incapable of recognizing them, or unwilling to. I don't know if I'll listen to it again. I'll want to. But the echo of some the voices will make me hesitate.
I was completely captivated by this book. I typically listen at 2X naration speed while driving or doing menial tasks, 3X for really boring or light books like "The Lost Fleet" series by Jack Campbell, or "The Inheritance Cycle" by Chris Paolini. And at 2X, this book demanded my attention; I missed several highway exits and would find myself frozen in concentration over the sink with a dirty dish in my hand throughout.
This book is delightfully meaty. The writing has the same kind of witty character driven attitude and linguistic texture that Stephenson did so well with in Snow Crash. The story arcs are huge, and I got a real kick out of watching them intersect. The math description only added to the experience by making me feel more involved. The funny bits made me look like a chortling, head-phoned maniac in the grocery store. And the book just kept being great over the whole 40 plus hours. And then it just sort of ended. Poof. Done. Just as in Snow Crash. A bunch of questions left un-answered, a bundle of loose strings left untied. Basically a chapter's worth of closure and epilogue just went missing. So yeah... could have been better there at the end, but still entirely worth it. I don't regret a minute of it, just wish Stephenson could have pushed his publishing deadline back a bit or something and really wrapped this baby up.
No, while very well written, it drags and fails to build
Great inflection and diversity
Don't get me wrong. I am a computer geek with a love for hacking, crypto and math.
But does he need to tell me about the chemical nutrients in the grass that's eaten by the sheep in the English countryside while (WWII) Waterhouse rides the train to Bletchley Park? Does he need to tell me about all the different ethnic groups in the Phillipines while (present day) Waterhouse goes to check on the Japanese gold on Avi's behalf? I could go on for ever.
This droning reminds of my Grandfather, telling me stories that would go on and on and on but never get anywhere.
Again, I loved the plot and the "spy novel" aspect of his book. But his writing style was a major turn-off for me.
I rate this item 3 stars, because of the seemingly daunting effort the creation of this book must have been.
Complex, Funny, and thought provoking
The narrator does an amazing job capturing the characters, I was laughing out loud at some moments
Weaving the story of different characters through different generations can be a challenge, but this book follows the progression and unravels a mystery through the eyes of different characters with such ease. The depth that Stephenson is able to conjure into the cast is amazing. I would recommend this book to everyone, no matter what you might typically listen to.
Subject matter fascinating: Alan Turing and the origin of computers via cryptography during WW II, Douglas MacArthur and the war in the Phiilppines, modern day Internet commerce. Written in an engaging style with well drawn characters and amusing dialogue.
Neal Stephenson is a math/computer geek and his books are full of that stuff, which I like although it makes them guy lit vs chic lit.
The characters and their relationships really come alive. The plot is great too.
The reader keeps a good pace, has a voice with suits the subject matter, and keeps the dialogue believable and fun to listen to.
The scenes of tunnelling to hide gold during WW II are amazing.
I will listen to this several times over, as there is so much to get out of it each time.
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