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
Before buying this book, listen to a sample and decide if you can take something like 40 hours of this reader's voice. After I bought it, I discovered the reader was the same as I had heard listening to Flying Through Midnight. I was not sure I could take the entire story in his voice. But I managed to finish it. If you love long books, this is certainly one of them! A book like this, however, should be read by a reader that grows on you rather than grates on you. Some characters are likeable in this book, but some sections get just a little too obsessive for my taste when it comes to details few people care about. A good example of this is a horridly lengthy description of eating a box of cereal. Or another example is a lengthy monologue about a mathematical function relating how effective one of the characters work is to how often he gets his manly needs met. If you like this sort of thing, you will love this book.
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.
This is the first book by Neal Stephenson I've read. Based on other reviews I had high hopes for a good, interesting story full of twists and turns. The twists and turns are there. Stephenson is a gifted story teller. Unfortunately it is ruined by poor writing and character stylization.
Much of this book sounds like it has been written by a horny thirteen year old boy who has never learned an ounce of personal discipline. The author assumes the male thought process revolves around sex and that it is commonplace for anyone to lace language with the word "f---". I don't mind characters being identified with certain language and expressions but when all the, supposedly differing, characters have a disturbingly common language and feel, it grows quite tiresome.
The story, though intricate, fails to deliver anything serous or thought provoking. It seems that after writing about half the book the author though, "oh, there better be some higher reason for this than a treasure hunt." and brought in some ideas of a new economy that would prevent future war but the concepts are fraught with holes for anyone much studied in economics.
The characters are generally unappealing. Most have few attractive features. I like characters to be real and have failings but these characters are very hard to care about much less like. The feel flat.
The story is very long at 40 hours. I like long stories when they are tight and keep me interested. Unfortunately the length is mainly because the author likes to take long periods of time meandering through sub-stories that take pages, even full chapters, when a paragraph would do. Again, Stephenson is good at story telling and these vignettes are well structured but they seriously impact story pacing and are often just gratuitous bringing nothing to the main thread of the tale.
Put simply, Stephenson needs to study writing so his writing will catch up with his story telling ability. He needs an editor to keep his ego in check. I'm not sure how one adjusts their personal values so that the characters reflected through their thoughts are more attractive redeeming but that seems necessary as well.
Narration: Dufris made up some rather hackneyed voices for the various characters. Perhaps that is because he found the characters as hackneyed as I did. Nevertheless I would have liked more mature voicing.
I've read a lot of Neal Stephenson, so I knew to expect brilliant writing that didn't necessarily go anywhere for a while. I'll say this, for once he didn't write a terrible ending. Maybe it's not brilliant, but it wasn't one of his books that falls apart at the end.
I really liked the book, but I really went on faith through hours, and hours, of narration. I commented a number of times to my husband, a computer scientist, that I'm not really enough of a geek for this book. Also, that I knew he'd love it, because he is.
I was engaged in the story, but not in that ignore my family and responsibilities way, until the middle of the second to last download. At that point, the characters finally took on life for me, and I really cared about what was happening.
I would be cautious in my recommendation to read this. For Stephenson fans or for those very interested in the history of computers and cryptology, I'd say it's a definite read. For others, I'm not sure they would want to get through the long descriptions.
I first read this book ten years ago, and it made a big impression. I was glad upon revisiting the audio version that the story still holds up so well. The complex narrative is really something of a masterpiece.
I thought this was especially good in audio format. I remember reading the book that there were long passages of formulas and hard to pronounce names like Ghnxh. Dufris does a great job with all of that. His narration is excellent, especially his voice for Bobby Shaftoe. I forgot what a funny character he was in the book. Even funnier narrated by Dufris.
I was reminded listening to this book that it really doesn't need to be filed away in the sci-fi section. There's really nothing sci-fi about it other than some of the characters being computer geeks and cryptographers. Its a touch of historical fiction, techno-thriller and a dash of Catch-22.
Anyway, unfortunate that this one costs you two credits, but well worth it for this dense, complex tale that you can definitely listen to more than once.
This was my first try at historical fiction. I found that this book got a lot of good reviews for the genre. It was an OK story but way way too long. When he would read emails we would have to go through the to, from, subject - including the RE nonsense. It almost made me want to throw my phone. He would also spend way too much time explaining linux/unix commands. He went into great unbelievable detail about almost everything. I am also not so sure I like the genre. So if you are a big fan of historical fiction -- you should probably ignore my review
The narrator almost entirely ruins listening to this book, which was a tremendously good read. Glaringly he mispronounces the frequent Philippine words and place names. He narrates sentence by sentence rather than appreciating the developing line of the story being expressed. I would not have used up two credits for this if I had payed enough attention to sample the quality of narration beforehand. My bad.........
While I found the reader to be very good, the storyline is thin and the book much too long. It's not that it's bad, but the entertainment value per hour of listening is one of the lowest I have experienced. I cannot recommend this book.
Having been sometimes disappointed with previous re-reads (listens) of books I had really enjoyed in the past, I delayed getting this for some time. But this has been for me one of the most enjoyable audio books ever (and I have a few). Stephenson at his best. Well done all who were involved.
I read Cryptonomicon years ago, but downloaded the book to give it a listen -- and it was an absolute joy. It's a generations-long story that has kept me company on the road for many hours. Never has math been more interesting and intriguing.
I can't pretend to have understood all of this amazing novel but I enjoyed every minute of it. From deeply poignant moments to laugh- out-loud funny moments it contained more information about cryptography, the second world war and technology than I could absorb but it kept me enthralled.
The narrator, William Dufris, was superbe. He created identifiable characters without being over the top about it and must have enjoyed the book to have conveyed the humour in it so well.
"I was glad when I got to the end of this."
This was far less technical than reviews on Amazon etc have suggested, and seemed to ramble from one scene to another with little narrative direction as if chapters from different books had been put together. I bought it because it has been described as some seminal work everyone ought to read but it is not. It requires intense concentration, as if you get distracted for a few seconds you'll find you've jumped into another book. I did get sort of interested in some of the characters, so listened to the end, but was glad when it was finished. I am now reluctant to try any other N.S. books, though from the reviews they alsolook enticing. As a techno thriller, The Blue Nowhere is much better.
I didn't mind the overall length, or the detailed descriptions as such,they just didn't hang together in a coherent story.
So don't feel as I did that if you haven't heard this you are missing out on a major work, and go pick something else with your credit.
Waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, 40 hours later... more waffle.
"Long and Convoluted"
I can't say I hated the book and I did listen to it all as I got interested in a couple of the characters. The problem was I got lost, I forgot which generation and which part of the story. I tend to listen to books when doing a meaningless task that takes no concentration and yet still I felt I had missed bits, stop listening if you will, and therefore maybe did not get the point. I am not sure whether it would have been better written as separate books in a saga then maybe you could grasp all the intricacies of the different stories. The reader though was flat and maybe that's why at times I switched off.
I gave up after nine hours I could just not get myself to understand or care about the charecters or the ??plot ,the narration was poor and seemes to lack any gaps to indicate a change or scene ot place or time maybe I m a little thick for this novel.
"pure waffle....... should be entitled Ramble On,,"
It looks like some of my scribblings whilst on speed, back in the old days...... william burroughs meets second life....... writ large and shone on a canvas...... tell me about it THE EMPEROR WEARS NO CLOTHES......... i bought this because it was told me by a friend whose advice I USED to value that this was a milestone work...... ir is, IN THE SENSE THAT I REACHED A MILESTONE IN PATIENCE LISTENING THROUGH IT, with one eye on the clock as the hours clicked steadily towards its end.........
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