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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 (2100 )
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  •  
    Brad Eaton Australia 04-24-10
    Brad Eaton Australia 04-24-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    12
    5
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    "Great book"

    I found this book a bit hard to listen to (& follow) in some places (mostly first 1/4 of book), hence the 4 star rating. I found this book absolutely hilarious in a lot of places, but completely enjoyable overall

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nathan Bayfield, CO, United States 08-27-10
    Nathan Bayfield, CO, United States 08-27-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    44
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    20
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    "Not that great for me..."

    Just not my cup of tea I guess. I was really thrown off by the prolific swearing all the time. It was also pretty sexually charged. (IMHO)

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    hyblaean Chicago, IL, United States 11-24-10
    hyblaean Chicago, IL, United States 11-24-10 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "This is a WWII story with some math thrown in..."

    well, at least the first 10 hours, and that's as much time as I'm going to invest in it. I spent the credit since I have read the author before (Snow Crash and The Diamond Age) and loved those two books. This book has none of that flavor. It read like sitting through those black and white 1950s-60s stylized war movies my dad loves. Purely painful.
    I see that I'm in the minority in my dislike of this novel, but it sure does make me wish audible had a return policy.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B Portage, MI, United States 03-11-10
    B Portage, MI, United States 03-11-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    "Were there no editors around?"

    I tried. I really did. But this is one of the worst books I've ever tried to read/listen to. So boring. Stephenson thinks very highly of his writing. The problem is he's not a very good writer. You'd think with a book this long he'd stumble onto some character development. Instead he gets wrapped up in minuscule details. This really needed an editor to cut out the fat. Maybe this book could have been salvaged. Maybe.

    8 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Lancaster, PA, United States 01-28-10
    Steve Lancaster, PA, United States 01-28-10 Member Since 2009
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    17
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    "I tried. I really did."

    I got about 10 hours into this 40+ hour audiobook. What a waste of a month's credits. There were three separate story arcs that I assumed would eventually merge, but I just couldnt care enough to keep listening. The science was interesting, and the discussions of information theory and cryptology were thought-provoking. But that couldnt make up for the rambling filler that made up everything in between. Spend your credits elsewhere.

    11 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jolae Long Beach, CA, United States 05-11-14
    Jolae Long Beach, CA, United States 05-11-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I could not finish it"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A solid story line


    What was most disappointing about Neal Stephenson’s story?

    I could not keep track of the characters and the plot was elusive.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator was good.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Cryptonomicon?

    I do not have a clue.


    Any additional comments?

    A wasted credit.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shawn Burton 05-25-10 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    74
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    "Great Mind"

    Visionary|DigitalProphet|TechnoPoet|Interpretor|Illuminator
    A previous post said that he thinks highly of his own writing. I would say this is absolutely and justifiably true. He writes with a finesse and utter coolness that can't be duplicated. Some people don't understand devoting several pages to explaining a characters maniacal Captain Crunch eating methods, others savor it like his character savors his cereal. He can go from elaborate discourse on masturbation, to nanotechnology in a single page and get away with it.
    Looking past the entertaining aspects, consider the fact that this book illustrates the importance of cryptography and digital security. In a deeper sense it screams to us to never forget the importance despite the flood of digital information and evolution of technology.

    **Stephenson conceived of the internet long before it became what it is today. He called it the metaverse.**
    I hope that his beautiful visions of nanotechnology and the evolution of computing technologies come to pass as well.
    Coolest SOB to ever put pen to paper. I'll read this and other books by Stephenson once a year for the rest of my life.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Atul Valley Stream, NY, United States 01-03-10
    Atul Valley Stream, NY, United States 01-03-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    "Long winded and rambling without purpose"

    What a waste of time and money. While the plot has some interesting bits, most of the book is pointless and the rantings do not relate to the plot or its advancement. Don't waste your money on this book

    12 of 44 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W K Mount Pleasant, MI, USA 01-21-10
    W K Mount Pleasant, MI, USA 01-21-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "POS"

    Garbage is the nicest word I can think of to describe this so-called book. No meaningful plot or continuity to speak of for anyone out of comic books. Written in a snotty, whiny, I-hate-the-world know-it-all style you would dexpect from a 13-year old dropout. A total fraud, They need to pay the reader for plowing through this (expletive deleted). Avoid at all costs.

    8 of 54 people found this review helpful
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