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.
Unwrap the unnecessarily *sassy* and *irreverent* talk, 12 minute long tangents on math problems that have no bearing on the story, military inaccuracy, lack of character depth and narration that overly emphasizes these attributes and you have a tedious exercise in writing that never quite gains momentum. After 16 hours I could take no more; quite painful to do to a 2 credit book but my cheapness only goes so far.
Easily in the bottom 5 books of my past 50.
I usually love really long, involved books, and I tried - really - to get into this one. In fact, I tried for about 20 hours! The different stories never came together, but the worst was the interminable reading of emails and codes. To make it worse, the narrator's voice was droning and boring. I finally gave up and never finished listening, which is very rare for me. I'm really sorry I spent 2 credits on this, and I'd give it zero stars if I could.
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.
I love this book and have read the print version 4-5 times. This isn't bad, but the narrator is jarringly glib, and doesn't change emotional gears all that well between the humorous parts and the more serious parts. Nor does he have enough mastery of accents or acting chops to clearly delineate the various characters from all over the world.
Granted, it's very challenging that way due to the scope of the book, but I wish Audible had looked a little further for a narrator that had more depth. Sorry, William Dufris. Haven't heard your other work, which may be great for all I know. But as someone who knows this book like the back of their hand, I don't think justice was done. I don't, in retrospect, feel this audio book was worth two credits. Probably would have been worth one. I should have popped for Anathem instead, maybe! Live and learn.
Highly recommend. The characters were fun to follow and the plot was an interesting back and forth between the present and past. Worth the two credits.
Geek, Gamer who hates wasting credits.
This book is not science fiction or cyber anything. This is a book is like “Ragtime”, a story of people and the times in which they live. Set in the 20th century. It is a story that weaves around 2 different generations but linked across time. It a story of people and great events around them. Men and women caught up in the 2nd World War and it is the story of men and women caught up in the wars that rage in the high tech business world of the late 20th century. But not the nice clean world of books like “Disclosure or Airframe”, but world of business in the 3rd world and men with money you don’t want to ask were they got it.
The characters are very three dimensional but also archetypes at the same time, the man of action, the geek, the preacher, etc.
It is well worth the 2 credits
Say something about yourself!
This book is chock full of a lot of real history and mathematics, and as something of a WWI history buff and a fan of the work of people like Turing and Shannon, I really enjoyed the clever ways in which Stephenson wove these realities into his fiction. A lot of the technical material is actually explained pretty well at a general level even if you haven't encountered it before, but some of it is more opaque, and this is probably better read than heard unless you already know the history and the math because you'll want to be looking things up all the time to get the full meaning of the story. In addition, the actual technology of telecommunications is rapidly moving beyond what was considered cutting edge when this was written, so it seems dated in places. On the other hand, "The Crypt" actually anticipates certain features of "The Cloud" in a spooky sort of way, and Stephenson's rants about politics and culture are both entertaining and thought provoking. The style is pure Stephenson -- flip, glib, smart, funny, sarcastic, cynical, upbeat -- and for the most part the narrator captures that well, but many of the soldiers and marines are voiced as if they were stupid, and a surprising number of technical terms are mispronounced, which is distracting (I'd give it 3.5 stars for performance). I enjoyed it, but in retrospect I think that, even knowing a lot of the non-fiction on which it is based, I would have enjoyed this more as a reader than I did as a listener.
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
I guess I was supposed to like this book, judging by most of the other reviews here, not to mention the awards it won after the print edition was published. I didn't like it. I didn't like the narrator (although I have to hand it to him for getting the pronunciation of "Oconomowoc" correct after flubbing it on his first attempt). The mix of fictionalized historical characters and actual fictional characters consistently left me wondering what was fact and what was fiction. The constant jumping from World War II to the 1990s, along with the similar names of many of the characters from both eras, made it very difficult for me to follow. To be honest, I was really glad when I finally heard "We hope you have enjoyed this McMillan audio production of Cryptonomicon." For the most part, I did not.
I'm helplessly in love with this book in dead tree form, and it's no different in audiobook form.
The narrative jumps between a Marine Raider and a codebreaker in World War Two, and a computer hacker descendant in the present time. This is an precursor to the much more ambitious Baroque Cycle in many ways, and shares lots of the same themes (and surnames) with that: currency as an abstract concept, computers, codes, war, information theory, maths.
It also shares the usual Stephensonian tropes: lengthy (but fascinating) digressions, snarky, dialogue, a plot somewhat less important than the prose, digs at the soft sciences, and sumptuous period detail.
It also finally tells you what that scroll lock light on your keyboard is useful for.
"Entertaining and intelligent."
An excellent book, well read (lieutenant pronounciation aside.)
A long and interesting story spanning decades, piles and piles of research thrown in, some of which can be slightly heavy listening unless you're a maths junkie or a little crowbarred in.
Even managed to make computing interesting which was a novelty for me.
Again surprisingly, it's a very funny book.
Well worth 40 hours of anyone's time.
I loved this book!
Arguably Neal Stephenson can be a little verbose but this can be forgiven in this really interesting and fascinating book.
Spanning the period from WW2 to the present day it is an epic well researched story and includes key appearances of real-life people as diverse as Alan Turing and Douglas MacArthur.
The characters are believable and the humour remincient of Joseph Heller's Catch 22.
Well worth the nearly 43 hours listen,
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, Boring and Pointless"
Loved Snowcrash and The Diamond Age
This however is far too long and ridiculously boring. There is no coherent story going on just a long rambling disjointed fluffy nothingness which occasionally breaks out into merely interesting in that it imparts measured doses of information re computer / codebreaking history. It was so irritating I felt it was like a 1000 page introduction to a story which never actually got going, kept on setting the scene then wandered off into mush instead of delivering a story - then had another go, and another, and another..............
Got about half way through before ditching it, life is too short to care where this is going. I bet it is really good on the last few pages but I lost the will to plough through it that far.
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.
"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.
"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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