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
really good book. the overall story is good. Alot of the villains are poorly set up and are thus not very meaningful. it's more about the journey and it's a good one. in audio format there are these time jumps that don't play well, and at first it can be confusing.
Except for a few chapters, the story is just page after page of the author's written indulgence. Too many words with too little impact. Like the author, the narrator worked very hard, but his voices were usually over the top and often irritating. Ok, they earned my $14.95 . . . But I would like my 42hrs back!
While I enjoyed many aspects of this book, including the characters and different time periods used, it was overall a letdown as the story just peters out and doesn't really leave me satisfied.
I read the book on the recommendation of an IT friend thinking that it would be more about cyber. They did talk quite a bit about cyber and although I found those portions to be interesting, they were a little disjointed and really seemed more to be an excuse to talk about sex and masturbation. A popular topic, to be sure, but not really important to the story. After I'd finished, my first thought was about the 40+ hours I'd spent listening to it and how many other books I could've listened to during that time.
While the book is quite good, Audible has still not fixed the out of order chapters people have noted before. Selling defective books is really not acceptable.
I think he was doing a fine job until he got to the Japanese. Here he totally butchered all of the names. It is one thing if they were filtered through the American characters ability, or lack thereof, to pronounce Japanese, but when during Goto Dengo’s storyline Ninomiya became Ninomaya I turned off the book. I’m not looking for perfection, but that was just horrible. I eventually went back to listening because I really wanted to know the rest of the story, becuase I really, really loved this book, and didn’t have the printed book at hand.
Shaftoe's debrief by a certain Army Lieutenant.
This is the first Neal Stephenson book I've read or listened to and I found it absolutely enthralling. The author's sense of humor is such that I often found the minutia (this is a long book and there is a lot of minutia) of the story captivating and hilarious. His character development is among the best I've read/listened to.
As a life-long member of the geeky introvert club I found his characterization of that archetype to be particularly enlightening, funny and just spot on.
I've since picked up Snow Crash and couldn't finish it. I guess the post cyber punk thing isn't for me, but I will certainly be picking up all his other historical fiction works.
The story unfolds in parallel threads, existing in the past and the recent-present, that reveal the plot in a fun way. Stephenson takes you all over the world and across time while letting you get to know some fun personalities. All of this happens at a brisk pace that will keep the listener engaged.
If you enjoy the idea of cyphers, the pre-history of computers and learning about some contemporary technology this book will entertain you. But don't assume that it's all about the tech. It's full of activity, from diving, combat, digging, hacking and excellent conversation.
William Dufris is a gifted narrator (I rarely encounter anything less with Audible these days) who expertly reads while inhabiting a large variety of characters of different sex and nationality. He's a one-man acting troupe, but you won't be cognizant of his efforts. You'll just enjoy the narrative.
The bottom line is that I looked for opportunities to listen to this whenever I could and I was sad when it was all over.
"reading big words"
Neal Stephenson has done amazingly, no complaints there.
William Dufris, despite his many excellent talents, doesn't know how to pronounce a lot of words. This seems like a prerequisite for an audiobook. Words from any foreign language or even many words over 3 syllables just got butchered, like he had never said them out loud before.
Please publishing companies: give your performers a pronunciation guide for all the rare, foreign, made up, or difficult words!
"Ambles along too much"
I am a little confused by this book. It seemed to amble along and assume the reader knows what direction it is going to take. Nothing became clear or apparent until the last 3 hours of the book. The first 30 hours just seemed to be the character aimlessly flitting about the world. By the end it all seemed pointless and lost.
There was something about the way the book was written which didn't feel right, the best way I can describe it is that it felt like the book was written by The Comic Book Store Owner from The Simpsons. There always seemed to be that element of geeky sarcasm. The way in which it was narrated was the same.
A marathon listen....this is a Very long tale.from the start it grabbed me and never let go,great characters woven between WW2 and the near present day.as others have said it tends to ramble at times,but in my opinion this adds to its appeal.Some parts are very math based but don't let that put you off,I'm a numerical dunce and still loved it.The narration is superb,witty,dry and brilliantly done.if you're looking for something out of the ordinary that will entertain you for all its nearly 43 hour length give this a go...you won't regret it.
Odd story. Seems disparate to begin with but folds together perfectly at the end. Ending was a little rushed but otherwise perfect.
"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
"nerdy and dull"
I am a nerd - I like IT and I like Crypto but I am so bored with this book. It just rambles on and on and on. I stop listening to it for a couple of weeks then try again and it seems to be just the same on and on.
"very very good"
Terrific! Reminds me of the world according to garp in the rambling story that focuses on the personal interaction and the small stuff whilst the big stuff is going on the background. I'm late to this author but will be catching up quickly.
"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.
"Tied my mind in knots trying to keep track"
I am not a stranger to Neal Stephenson and enjoy the off-the-wall way he looks at technology. His ability to turn events that appear normal into Sci-fi or mystery is uncanny. But this book ... whew ... I could not keep up with the characters and the story line. I realised early on that we were switching between the 1940's and 1990's, but this realisation did not clarify any of the events for me. I enjoyed his explanations of technology. I like the twists he puts into his explanations. But in between these explanations, I could not work out "who was who".
I also found that his male protagonists are quite mysogonistic. As the events unfolded, I found myself questioning why the women introduced into the story were one-dimensional, predictable, and seemingly only there for sex. It became more and more irritating, until after about 35 hours of listening, I abandoned the book.
I hate abandoning books, particularly Neal Stephenson, because I know somewhere in the last 7 hours 53 minutes there would have been a mind-numbing, incredibly unusual take on technology or science. I can't tell you what it is, because his sexist approach to women, and the confusing story, made we want to take a rest. Which I did.
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