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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

4.3 (2714 )
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4.3 (2014 )
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4.4 (1991 )
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  •  
    Kim Metcalfe, ON, Canada 02-13-13
    Kim Metcalfe, ON, Canada 02-13-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Made me look forward to the commute"

    I'll admit that I thought the story took a while to really get going, but long before I got anywhere near the end, it was in the "can't put it down" category. It's not often that I identify with characters as much as I did with some of the folks in this book. I also really enjoyed most of the digressions (the math ones especially, stockings/furniture not so much).

    Whatever they are paying the narrator is not enough. He was great, and managed to produce a wide variety of accents and emotions.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Nicholasville, KY, United States 02-13-13
    Charles Nicholasville, KY, United States 02-13-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Couldn't finish the book..."

    I don't think I was committed to the book. When they explain some cryptography by telling you equations and spitting out numbers, it's hard to focus on. I'm a geek/nerd by nature and this stuff is interesting however I think I'd need to see it on paper to understand it. I wasn't attached to the characters either.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Old Man Parker Kailua-Kona, HI, United States 01-16-13
    Old Man Parker Kailua-Kona, HI, United States 01-16-13 Member Since 2009

    Me am Pop-Surrealist Tiki-Artist living and making Art on the active volcanic "Big Island" of Hawaii. Aloha.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Awesome. This is a review in Haiku"
    If you could sum up Cryptonomicon in three words, what would they be?

    Epic. Lush. mind-expanding.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It's hugely intelligent. It takes you in new unexpected turns at every chance, with characters you really grow to enjoy. Hyper violent World War Two action scenes to super-nerd semi-science fiction to deep mathematic oceans of code breaking. The true history of the world is revealed.


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

    no.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Breaking a WWII code reveals the secret to the war, and mankind's purpose in life.


    Any additional comments?

    Here is my review in Haiku form:

    breaking a code
    reveals WW II debt
    Godzilla

    (I use the Term Godzilla here as Godzilla is referred to in the film "Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" in which Godzilla has origins rooted in Japan's World War II past. While, Godzilla is still a mutant dinosaur created by the atomic bomb, he is also described as an incarnation of those killed or who were left to die at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Pacific War.)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shaul Petah Tikva, Israel 01-16-13
    shaul Petah Tikva, Israel 01-16-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Every second of this book captures me"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of Cryptonomicon?

    Everything, I found that every sentence in this book is fascinating. I was bored even for a second. Even the slow parts of the book kept me interested and engaged.


    What about William Dufris’s performance did you like?

    I still find it hard to belive than one person can voice so many people.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Pittsboro, nc 01-12-13
    Amazon Customer Pittsboro, nc 01-12-13 Member Since 2011
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    Story
    "Parallel Lives"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Listening to books often provides a startlingly different perspective than reading. SnowCrash's faults of extreme didactic-ism were highlighted while listening to what seemed interminable lecture after lecture, read, to my ears, in an affected and irritating manner. On the other hand Cryptonomicron, if not improved, was certainly not "diminished" by the narration. It took a while to accept Dufris' sometimes heavy handed characterization of some of the main characters, but as the stories wound on, what seemed affected early on, became less problematic later. As with Snowcrash there's a LOT of lecturing going on; but Stephenson works the lectures into conversations in a far more adept fashion. And the plots, while fantastic, were grounded in lots of solid research...eg there really WAS a German sub, U-234, that was supposed to bring material that might allow Japan to construct an atomic bomb before the war's end.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Gotu's construction of Golgotha.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    no way! I actually pulled out the hardback copy to get details straight several times.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Wellington, New Zealand 12-24-12
    Ted Wellington, New Zealand 12-24-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Wonderful yarn"
    If you could sum up Cryptonomicon in three words, what would they be?

    Imaginative historical fiction. Stephenson painted a rich picture of the human side ww2 events.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Cryptonomicon?

    The interaction of the fictional Bobby Shaftoe with the historical MacArthur reminds me of the best of Turtledove.


    What does William Dufris bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Dufris did a solid job of representing the characters.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 12-18-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Great Book, but Audible version has an error."
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Redwood CIty, CA, United States 11-26-12
    John Redwood CIty, CA, United States 11-26-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Disjointed and Anticlimactic"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nils heber, UT, United States 10-28-12
    Nils heber, UT, United States 10-28-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Not my kind of story"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dana Troy, Maine, United States 10-20-12
    Dana Troy, Maine, United States 10-20-12 Member Since 2015
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    "good book, sketchy reading"
    Would you listen to Cryptonomicon again? Why?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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