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
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.
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.
Me am Pop-Surrealist Tiki-Artist living and making Art on the active volcanic "Big Island" of Hawaii. Aloha.
Epic. Lush. mind-expanding.
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.
Breaking a WWII code reveals the secret to the war, and mankind's purpose in life.
Here is my review in Haiku form:
breaking a code
reveals WW II debt
(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.)
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.
I still find it hard to belive than one person can voice so many people.
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.
Gotu's construction of Golgotha.
no way! I actually pulled out the hardback copy to get details straight several times.
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.
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