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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 (2004 )
5 star
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4.2 (1381 )
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4.4 (1361 )
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    flaos Ma, United States 11-15-09
    flaos Ma, United States 11-15-09 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    69
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    "Finally Audible"

    I loved this book when I first read it, but I love to listen to books Even if I've already read them. I have been searching for this book for so long. I couldn't even find it stolen online. Finally Audible has the full version, and I couldn't be happier that it's available in a form which provides income to the author and the voice artist.

    This really is a classic, if you're gawking at the price or the 2 credits instead of one, go ahead, splurge. It's worth it. This is one of the most engaging books I've ever read, it keeps you interested and wanting to learn more with every word. You'll actually learn a lot of maths if you've never done number theory or theory of computation. The story is set in World War II following two characters and also in the 1990s following another, a descendant of one of the two former. I would say this is Stephenson's first venture into what becomes "steam-punk" i.e. looking at past technology with the same eye we bring to future technology. He looks at an organ and sees a computer.

    besides that, the story is riveting, if i didn't already mention this...

    enjoy

    68 of 70 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven L Buda, TX, USA 04-03-10
    Steven L Buda, TX, USA 04-03-10 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    81
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    "Good Book But Missing Something"

    This is a great book and the unabridged audio version is a welcome addition to my library. However, having read the book several times, the audio version has at least one technical issue - there is about a chapter and a half of the story missing in part 5 at the beginning of chapter two. In the print version this is all of "Deluge" and part of "Captivity". Maybe it will show up later, that's happened before in other audio books.

    81 of 84 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey Wieseman GA United States 11-07-10
    Jeffrey Wieseman GA United States 11-07-10 Member Since 2007

    Gosoxjsw

    HELPFUL VOTES
    142
    ratings
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    21
    6
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    Overall
    "Be careful!"

    So far in the first 3 chapters this Audio book has skipped 30 pages , continues to another part of the book and at the beginning of another chapter, it reverts back to the previous 30 skipped pages. Fortunately I have the print book version to verify. Probably why so many reviews say that there is a disjointment to the listening. I emailed Audible about this, we'll see if there is a fix. Enjoy the book so far but hard to find where I should be listening. UGGHHH!! I hope I didn't waste 2 credits! Help Audible!!!!!!!!!!!

    87 of 92 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian C Robertson South Australia, Australia 02-16-12
    Ian C Robertson South Australia, Australia 02-16-12 Member Since 2010

    Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Cracker!"

    I recall when I first read this fantastic book how impressed I was with the level of detail, research and sheer discipline that must have underpinned the writing of it. I was no less impressed when I heard this audio performance. Having now also read the Baroque Cycle, I got a double thrill out of the repetition of the characters' histories, their shared ancestory and the scale of Stephenson's imagination. Anyone who enjoys history (but doesn't take themselves too seriously as a history buff) is bound to enjoy this book.

    I listened to this performance about a year ago. At the time I had not written any reviews and it never dawned on me to write one for this book. However, I have today finished listening to Richard Dawkins', "The Blind Watchmaker", and I am now writing reviews for most of the audio I listen too. In that review I wrote that fact is so often more interesting than fiction. I believe that, but it is not true in this instance. Maybe it's because the fact and the fiction are so inextricably interwoven. One has to stop to think, "Now, did that happen?" Then one is driven to the Net to check the odd details and, invariably, the facts stack-up.

    The plot is great. It too is interwoven between times and personalities, from WWII to the modern internet highways that criss-cross the oceans of the world with their fibre-optic cables. I love Waterhouse (all of them) and who could not like Root and Rudi? My recommendation is to invest the time and effort in this and other Stephenson works. They repay the effort many times over.

    As for the characterisations of William Dufris, I have to say they were outstanding. I thought I was going to hate the American twang, but his sense of the character was so good I found myself having to replay passages for my own enjoyment and to the entertainment of my unfortunate friends. One passage in particular, when Waterhouse does the algebra to solve his lack of sex, got a particular hammering (pardon the pun). Finally, can I just mention his range - male, female, American, Japanese, Swiss, backwoodsman, professor and every combination of these. Simply outstanding.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Carlton, VIC, Australia 01-09-10
    Peter Carlton, VIC, Australia 01-09-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
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    "A very fine read"

    This wasn't just a good audio-book, it was a Tour de Force for the narrator, William Dufris. If you ever find a reader's attempts at different voices or accents cause to cringe, don't worry, this guy mostly nails it. As to the book itself, it's nothing short of epic in scope, spanning half a century, a good part of the planet, full of dire struggles, mayhem, heroes and bad guys. My question is, what has this guy (Stephenson) done with his life to be able to render so many different places, scenarios and characters in such vivid detail? On the other hand it is long, very, very long. I'm grateful that I was able to listen to it rather than read it, and I do have to admit that at times, it tired me. This tended to happen in some of the descriptive sections, which were at times perhaps a little too detailed. Plot-wise there were also one or two moments of discomfort for me. Don't let any of that put you off, plunge in, it's worth the effort, the rewards are definitely there, overall a great piece of work.

    24 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy Twp. of Washington, NJ, United States 01-30-10
    Judy Twp. of Washington, NJ, United States 01-30-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "complex and intelligent"

    It took a little while to get into and sort out all of the characters and parallel storylines, however, it was worth it!

    "Cryptonomicon" was long but the story was so complex that it seemed right (I even wanted the book to go on.)

    Also, do not be intimidated by the math-y content of the book. The author does very well at describing complex number theory and cryptography in a way that is accessible.

    I highly recomment this book.

    19 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gal Wilson, WY, USA 12-07-09
    Gal Wilson, WY, USA 12-07-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
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    "Night And Day!"

    (compared with the "Unabridged Excerpts"!)

    Well worth the hefty price, well read and done. I have no qualms whatsoever spending good money on this version, as it was obviously the product of hard work and professional production.

    16 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ColoBear Castle Rock, CO 08-27-12
    ColoBear Castle Rock, CO 08-27-12 Member Since 2011

    Brad M.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Magnificant"
    What did you love best about Cryptonomicon?

    The story-telling is engrossing, drawing the reader in bit-by-bit as the story unfolds. The combination of witty humor and detailed technical description will cause more than a few moments of inappropriate laughter and plenty of Google searches.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Cryptonomicon?

    There are quite a few memorable moments, but the one for me is [SPOILER] the scene during the raid on the Ordo offices where Tombstone is held, seeing the combination gun toting anti-Government Intrusion Secret Admirers as well as nerds using an EMP cannon to confuse and screw with the police.[/SPOILER]


    What does William Dufris bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    William Dufris brings the story to life. Not only pronouncing some of the more difficult completely made up languages, he gives each character life. It's less of a narration and more of a one-man radio play, complete with a great Douglas MacArthur voice.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I wasn't able to completely finish the book until a week long road trip where I could enjoy 8-10 hours of it at a time. It is a long, long book and very technical so it does require attention to be paid.


    Any additional comments?

    Read it, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Francois M. 04-14-11
    Francois M. 04-14-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    0
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    "Three stars at best"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evelyn lawrence, KS, United States 03-31-11
    Evelyn lawrence, KS, United States 03-31-11 Member Since 2010

    Dweenaleena

    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
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    10
    8
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    "Great book, but the reader doesn't enhance it"

    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.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 136 results PREVIOUS1214NEXT
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  • Amazon Customer
    Winchester, United Kingdom
    4/10/13
    Overall
    "Nerd Nirvana"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Ian
    East Sussex, United Kingdom
    12/24/12
    Overall
    "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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • alan
    Canvey Island, United Kingdom
    2/3/12
    Overall
    "Great story!"

    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,

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Paul
    Boston, United Kingdom
    4/16/11
    Overall
    "Still Reeling"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Martin
    Cheltenham, Glos, United Kingdom
    11/22/10
    Overall
    "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.

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • PL
    Bradley Stoke, United Kingdom
    12/9/11
    Overall
    "Waffle"

    Waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, waffle, 40 hours later... more waffle.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    Chelmsford, United Kingdom
    8/26/12
    Overall
    "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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • d h keen
    3/1/10
    Overall
    "Cryptonomicon (Unabridged"

    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.

    5 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • Silverdolphin23
    LONDON, United Kingdom
    2/6/12
    Overall
    "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.........

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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