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 value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.
Neal Stephenson books are always highly rated on Audible, but man, this guy just doesn't do it for me. Cryptonomicon jumps around in it's narration for no discernible reason. If you're not listening to it all in one sitting, you're not going to follow the multiple story lines.
But it really doesn't matter because all the story lines are boring anyway. I mean, a couple of them start strong, but boy do they get stale fast.
Two thirds through the book and I barely care about any of the characters. I'm a bit confused as to what's going on in a couple of the plot lines, and too bored by the book to go back and re-listen.
This is the third Stephenson book that made me feel this way. I'm done. And I'm not going to punish myself by sitting through the rest of this plodding nonsense.
Well, lets just say that i dont know of anything that could have made this book better. Less needless description maybe.
the performance was decent. different voices, different personalities, etc. He just read a bad book.
morbid depression and confusion
This is my first review and i have been a member for about 6 months, with many purchases. I wanted to find another genre to get into. I enjoy The Remaining, Monster hunters international, Mountain Man, things like that. This book spent 25 minutes describing...in slow, agonizing detail... the math that figured out how far a bike will go if it has one bent gear tooth and one bad link in the chain... Painful. 15 minutes telling the history of a womans' outfit and the reason that her people think color of any kind is sinful. And she didnt even have any part in the story.....Painful. If you like to listen someone read things like "the letter read q, t, l. s, t, l ,k, a, p, e, s, n, x, but i figured out that l = e. So now it read, q, t, E, s, t, E, k," etc., then you might enjoy this book. Its like Stephen King meets fictional, jumbled history.
Runs with scissors.
Love Neal Stephenson his humor is so spot on and the flow of this book is excellent. And William Dufris completely rocked the narration. A perfect reading as far as I'm concerned. The best metaphor in fiction: the manual override. Well done.
First, two words: William Dufris. Home-dude is a vocal genius. Every character, Every. Single. Character. is acted to a masterpiece. In fact, his vocalizations are so well done that he probably could have dropped quote attribution (E.G.: Randy said) and I wouldn't have suffered in the least.
Second, two more words: Neal Stephenson. I love Stephenson's work, but this is his best piece. I by no means dislike any of his other books - I love them - but this is Magnum Opus. It's the most literary of all his work, the plot grapevines through about 50 years of time and all of the characters are interrelated. I don't understand why this isn't required reading in high schools.
That it exists. And that I can read it.
Also, that it exists. And he performed it. And I can listen to it. Someone should invent the audiobook Grammy's, just to give him one. Seriously, they'd only need one show that lasts 15 minutes to give Dufris his AB Grammy, drop the mic and walk home.
It's a combination of moments. The evolution and progression of the characters and plot in general. Stephenson's depiction and Dufris' performance of General MacArthur is eff'ing hillarious.
clocking in at just over 40 hours. You certainly get your money's worth of quality sometimes majestic story telling. Sgt. Bobby Shaftoe is an American cryptanalyst. His orders are under no circumstances to place himself under possibility of capture. Skipping two generations, Randy Price Waterhouse is a 1990s cryptanalyst working on the cutting edge of cyber-law, and is in love with America Shaftoe, Bobby's granddaughter. Goto Dengo is a Nipanese Officer and Engineer, and Rudy von Hacklheber is a mathematician and cryptographer who befriends Waterhouse and Turing as they explore and develop early computing and crypt analysis. Gunter Bischoff is a U-Boat commander, and Glory Altamira is the mother of Douglas MacArthur Shaftoe. Brilliantly narrated by William Dufris. This novel along with Stephenson's The Diamond Age are two of the most impressive novels I've listened to in the scale of Lem and Dick. However, his Snow Crash is something I just didn't cotton onto.
I really enjoyed this book. I laughed on how 2/3 of the way through the book, I still wasn't entirely clear on the plot. Normally this would bug me, but it was so well written that I just enjoyed the ride to see where it was headed.
I also have to say, the narrator was very good. Hard to beet.
As a 30 hour per week traveler and over 12 years on Audible.com, I seldom write a negative or neutral review. However, I felt compelled to advise my fellow listeners about this title.
The book is sooooo slow to pick up speed and I am talking 10 to 15 hours here to pick up speed.
Even then, it rambles on. It sounds like it is about to get interesting only to shift gears once again.
It is a novel about interesting issues that span the course of generations of family members. It starts in World War 2 (about 1941 or 1942) and comes close to present day times.
It contains many interesting tidbits if you have a strong math/technology background.
Trying to seperate the generations of family is a bit difficult as the names and functions are so similar.
If you want a really long book where the engagement and excitement is spaced long enough for you to calculate your tax return in your head without missing a beat, then this is for you.
It has it's high spots but I can not recommend it to the listener that wants a fast paced, exciting, easy to follow read.
Gardening Geek/Fishing Freak/CADninja
After listening to Snow Crash I thought I was ready for some more Stephenson. Boy was I wrong.
This book had me wanting to claw my eardrums out. I only finished it so that I could write a review with a clear conscience. I fully sympathize with those who could not push through like Bobby Shaftoe through an enemy line.
There are brief entertaining moments, corns in the turd if you will. Particularly the WWII segments involving Goto Dengo. But these are followed by mind numbingly boring overly descriptive droning about things normal humans don't care about.
Long sections of this book are like sitting in The Dentist's chair having your molars removed while attorneys stand around explaining to you in legal jargon how The Dentist is suing you for breach of contract because your teeth didn't pop out as easily as expected.
I suspect that I am simply not smart enough to "get" this tome. Too many characters to keep up with in two different time lines. Too much obscure math that I don't understand, and don't want or need to understand, and I'm an electrical designer.
I have Anathem sitting on a bookshelf at home, staring at me, mocking me. It just may end up in a used book store.
Certainly the best book I have ever downloaded from Audible and perhaps the best book i have read this millennium.
Three story lines allow for some good ol fashion WWII fun, an intellectual discussion on math a cryptology, and a modern take of some beneficial use of the two. Only down point(s) for me were a slightly stereotypical view of humanities academia, and masculinity. But the draw backs are few and more asides then part of the main narrative.
I loved this book.
Sure, it was massive. And I take what the other reviewers said about there being unneccessary diversions though the book.
But the fact is that, despite its size, I didn't want it to finish. I love Neal Stephenson's style. He can capture a complicated mesh of emotions with a single sentence- sometimes a single word. His writing style is loose and very very funny. The story itself rambles around in a massively entertaining meander through the decades- but it gets you there in its own good time.
I disagree with comments that it's so full of technical jargon that you need to have a degree, an anorac, or a specialist knowledge of Dungeons and Dragons esoterica to get it. All the technical stuff is explained for non-technical folks like me, and it's nearly always very daft, and very funny.
It being funny and daft doesn't mean that it is without a moral compass. There is a strong 'under-story' that will, at times, capture your heart by creeping up while you're not expecting it, and getting in there by stealth. Neal S's writing style makes this happen seamlessly.
A word for the narrator. He pulled the story along with a slick and beatifully timed delivery. Good at accents, so you know who's saying what. It's an understated delivery, but it's exactly how it should be. He presents the words without imposing himself onto them.
However: This is not a life-changing book. It is enlightening, but never profound. It is a book that will entertain you rather than tranform you. You may think that 42hours (or 900+ pages) is too much of an undertaking merely to be entertained. I'd argue that you'll know whether you like it or not within the first hour of reading it- so the commitment is only until then. By the time Bobby Shafto and his team have knocked over the money carriers you should have an idea of whether you want to keep reading.
So- go on. You've nothing to lose!
"Long but worth it!"
Good story, and a prospective on the Second World War from many prospective...
Good insight into the development of modern computing and hacking
"Not just for geeks but study may be necessary."
A tome of knowledge and insight that's worth absorbing slowly over the course of its epic runtime. Sequences of drama amd action are crystalised in Stevensons gripping blockbuster style but the real worth is most often coded into the subtext.
"Depth and detail with an enthralling story"
I would recommend this book to most of my friends, for some it may be to techie.
The way the the author manages to span multiple timelines and geographic locations, then weave it all together into a coherant story.
I read the book soon after it was released. The narration matches my own characterisation of the protagonist which makes the audio book a very pleasant listen.
Yes - but it is a long one so probably not possible
"Probably the best way to tackle this behemoth!"
Having read Stephenson's Quicksilver over a couple of months and having tried to get going on Anathem (currently put to one side, but that's partly because it's a hard copy brick) I thought this would be a good medium for Stephenson's brilliant but voluminous style. Boy was I right! I typically listen to audiobooks for about 2 hours a day (commuting) but sometimes a little more when I travel for work. This must have taken me over a month, but I really enjoyed it and was quite sad when it was all over.
In a way it doesn't feel like one immensely long opus, because there are actually 2-3 different narrative strands being brought together here, each of which has its own eddies and diversions. Stephenson loves to fit in some (sometimes gratuitous) mathematical and scientific digressions, which I personally enjoy, but I imagine could be a bit tiresome if you're really just looking for character and plot.
Fundamentally, this is a tale of the interaction of mathematics with the material world and of the impact that this apparently theoretical discipline can and does have on the world in which we live. There's quite a bit of philosophy and history thrown in too. Stephenson always writes with the assumption that his readers are as curious about everything as he himself is and seems to be at his best when exploring the hows and whys. His characters are vehicles for this and work perfectly well, if they're a little flat at times, this rarely feels like it really matters.
William Dufris's reading really brings the whole thing to life and simply being able to sit back and absorb the story, rather than wading through a punishing 1000-odd pages of novel is a much more manageable way to enjoy this book. For me, anyway.
"Philosophical, geeky, gripping"
I'm considering re-listening to Cryptonomicon right away. It's a completely immersive experience and it's one of the only audiobooks where I could just sit an listen without needing to do something else at the same time.
each storyline is gripping and they connect together in satisfying ways. There is a grand, philosophical arc to the story expressed in its own way in each narrative of the book, but there is also great small scale detail which adds lightness and accessibility.
William Dufris is an excellent narrator. He manages to give each main character his own distinctive voice (though Bobby Shaftoe probably sounds a little dumb). I especially liked the theatrical, surreal quality he brings to Douglas McArthur.
If the world is on the line, make sure the geeks are on your side.
I've listened to a lot of audiobooks and this one may be my favourite.
"A rambling epic through war, dotcom and maths"
A couple of stories nested together, that all intertwine at the end. Has some weird sex scenes in but it's 99% a fantastic tale of a whole bunch of weird people
Shifting seamlessly through history and technological exposition I was hooked.
Straight on to more from this author for me.
"Verbose, but worth it"
I'm a geek and I enjoyed the technical detail, but elsewhere there were too many rambles with limited payoff. I'd also say there were a few loose ends and the odd detail or explanation lacking. But overall a thoroughly absorbing story.
A note on the narration: it was as good as I have ever heard. the characterisations fit, and the range and consistency of voices was excellent.
"Jumped around too much."
Too many barely related plots. And a very slow start. Definitely no replay potential. Very disappointing.
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