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Alan Turing: The Enigma Audiobook

Alan Turing: The Enigma

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Publisher's Summary

Listed as one of the essential 50 books of all time in The Guardian

Inspired the Academy Award-nominated film, The Imitation Game

It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades--all before his suicide at age forty-one. This classic biography of the founder of computer science, reissued on the centenary of his birth with a substantial new preface by the author, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life.

A gripping story of mathematics, computers, cryptography, and homosexual persecution, Andrew Hodges's acclaimed book captures both the inner and outer drama of Turing's life.Hodges tells how Turing's revolutionary idea of 1936--the concept of a universal machine--laid the foundation for the modern computer and how Turing brought the idea to practical realization in 1945 with his electronic design. The book also tells how this work was directly related to Turing's leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II, a scientific triumph that was critical to Allied victory in the Atlantic. At the same time, this is the tragic story of a man who, despite his wartime service, was eventually arrested, stripped of his security clearance, and forced to undergo a humiliating treatment program--all for trying to live honestly in a society that defined homosexuality as a crime.

©2012 Andrew Hodges (P)2012 Audible Ltd

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (1430 )
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  •  
    R L Crepeau 11-01-14
    R L Crepeau 11-01-14 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Long, Detailed But Excellent Listen"
    Any additional comments?

    This book is especially interesting after having listened to George Dyson's Turing Cathedral, which paints the picture of what happened on the US side of the Atlantic during that time period and the very different but equally brilliant John Von Neumann.

    Alan Turing The Enigma is long, very detailed and is some places drags. But it IS meant to be a "definitive biography" so such is to be expected.

    The technical material presented was not too deep nor too shallow for me - an electrical engineer and programmer.

    In my opinion, you can not know Alan Turing without knowing his homosexuality and what he endured because of his independent nature. If such matters turn you off, then that's an intellectual loss for you.

    I can only say that I am delighted I chose to spend the hours listening to this book, especially given that I will soon be seeing the movie based on it.

    39 of 54 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blashy Québec, Canada 07-11-13
    Blashy Québec, Canada 07-11-13 Listener Since 2008
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    "WAY too technical !!"

    I wanted the biography of Alan Turing, now this book has his biography but well over HALF the book is just technical math stuff about the various projects he worked on throughout his life.

    If you are a math enthusiast and are interested in hearing a good 7 hours of it, this book is for you.

    34 of 48 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John McGinley 04-06-15
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    "Overly comprehensive bio including the science"
    What made the experience of listening to Alan Turing: The Enigma the most enjoyable?

    Scientific detail


    What other book might you compare Alan Turing: The Enigma to and why?

    Any of the Enigma books


    What about Gordon Griffin’s performance did you like?

    Brit accent, but well done


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Much background of the science of code breaking thru the war. He does a good job of describing the world and scientific situation at points during Turing's life. Very wordy but good words.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Bend, OR, United States 03-22-15
    Sam Bend, OR, United States 03-22-15 Member Since 2011
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    "I Wish it Was Abridged"
    Any additional comments?

    If there was an abridged version, I would recommend it more. As a general rule, I like long books. In fact it is one of my search criterion. But this is the rare book that would have been better if it were about half as long.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BryinSiam 02-26-15
    BryinSiam 02-26-15
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    "Subtly trenchant"

    Disturbing, haunting, tantalizing. Excellently read. Worthy of multiple reads. Film imitation game a tasty sample only. Consume both if you dare.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Valencia, CA, United States 09-28-14
    Michael Valencia, CA, United States 09-28-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Really well done"
    Any additional comments?

    Alan Turing was the most significant scientific mind of the 20th century, so were his accomplishments. I want to know as much as possible about this great mind. To say that this is too long and too detailed is idiotic. The narration is top notch and worthy of the subject. It is a tragedy for the human race that this great mind was crushed by ignorance and arrogance. If given his full life his accomplishments and the benefits to scientific knowledge would have matched or exceeded Einstein.

    12 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy tokyo 03-03-15
    Jeremy tokyo 03-03-15 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too much math - too little Turing"
    What did you love best about Alan Turing: The Enigma?

    It's a very slow moving book, and I felt comfortable being able to pop in and out as I wished.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The most? - The WWII intelligence work.
    The least? - The chapters and chapters of math and logic theory...


    How could the performance have been better?

    Could have been more in keeping with the author's compassion...


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    So much more than you can even imagine!


    Any additional comments?

    I love this book, but I would probably have edited it down by half...

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SrCit 02-18-15
    SrCit 02-18-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Tragic story, well told"

    Summarizes the loss of a superb intellect to senseless homophobia. In his tragically shortened life, Turing, together with John Von Neumann laid out the architecture still used in all computers today. Where might we be today if this man had lived out a full lifespan?

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. F. Boulden 02-15-15
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    "On numerous occasions words are misspoken"

    The overall performance is actually very good, but if you read the book along with the audio, you'll see that on numerous occasions a word is misread aloud changing the overall meaning of a sentence or making the sentence completely unintelligible.

    10 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jo 09-08-17
    Jo 09-08-17
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    Story
    "I really tried to like it..."
    What disappointed you about Alan Turing: The Enigma?

    I loved the story of Alan's early years including his path through Public School into University but I couldn't get past the dense mathematics. Skipping uninteresting bits is difficult in an audio book compared to a paper-based volume. I listened on an Amazon Echo that didn't respond to skipping chapters and sections as indicated in Audible's table of contents. I so wanted to get to the war years but just couldn't stomach the time required to get there.


    What could Andrew Hodges have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Mr. Hodges has written a book with two audiences: mathematicians and those interested in traditional biographies. As a biography reader, who made it through calculus with great effort, I found the inability to skip the math frustrating. As a computer (in the early sense of the word) who considered meeting Grace Murray Hopper a lifetime highlight, I wish Hodges would publish a second, shorter, personal book on Alan Turning the man.


    What about Gordon Griffin’s performance did you like?

    Griffin's accent is spot on. I admire his ability to portray child-like voices without sounding precious or twee.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The early childhood chapters are excellent but can't make up for the inability to skip the dense mathematics.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Dermot
    Bottesford, United Kingdom
    9/2/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I tried very hard to listen to this but only made it half way"

    I really struggled with extracting any significant story from this book - don't know how they made a film from it (a lot must be made up). Perhaps if you want to build another machine then the book might be useful. I must say I valued the 500MB of iPhone space more than the content of this book - so I deleted it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Dan
    Stalbridge, United Kingdom
    7/20/15
    Overall
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    "A detailed account of the life of Alan Turing"
    What made the experience of listening to Alan Turing: The Enigma the most enjoyable?

    Well, I set it to X2 to speed this very long book up, you don't miss anything at double speed, I don't know if I would have finished it at normal speed due to the emmence detail in math which just makes my head go numb but if you're into math I'm sure you'll love it.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Gordon Griffin?

    Maybe, he's tone is very matter of fact, suited the content well but told will little emphasis on important parts will no build up.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Well I didn't but someone did! To be honest I don't like the title, it relates more to his life than his work and I would rather a title based on his work.


    Any additional comments?

    If you've watched the film, this will fill the gaps with glorious detail.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Matty
    6/9/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Possibly the most boring book I've listened to"

    Loved the film and story and thought the book might be interesting when it was full of formulae that only someone doing a maths degree would understand. Although I'm not that thick I soon realised that I'm not that clever either

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Rob W
    5/22/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant dysfunctional man broken by 1950s Britain"

    No shock at almost 31 hours this book is brutally long. The first several hours covering Alan's childhood are pretty tedious but once you get through that it gets interesting.

    Found myself utterly frustrated that as a nation we couldn't find a way to make the most of a brilliant mind.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Prof John S. Kelly
    Edinburgh, Scotand
    1/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More than a little tiresome"

    Turing Book by Andrew Hodges. Great read if you survive the first ten hours. The title of the film is explained about this point.
    The information for readers failed to mention that the book incorporates an unabridged account of Andrew Hodges' Oxford courses which although excellent of their sort are not a patch on Jim Al-Khalili's programmes on the BBC. One gem is the explanation of the tittle of the film of the book "The Imitation Game" which greatly enhanced my memories of the film. The accounts of the intelligence services in the UK during the first forty odd years of the 20th century are a revelation and worthy of greater exposure. The events surrounding the sinking of the aircraft-carrier Glorious were not far short of criminal. The lack of knowledge in the lead up to the Dunkirk equally embarrassing. The very much better position of France, Poland and Norway staggering. One of the most interesting features of the story is the role happenstance and pure luck that fortunately contributed to the British success. Although the account of Turing's life after the war is interesting Hodges' expositions on Turing's papers and philosophy more than a little tiresome.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    8/4/12
    Overall
    "Postumous recognition of a troubled genius"

    This is a monumental biography of one of the great minds of the 20th century who, sadly, didn't get the recognition he deserved until well after his death. Despite some very complex descriptions of mathematical theorems, I was captivated by the mixture of Turing's personal life with his contributions to code-breaking and computing. Interwoven into the story one is reminded of how very different social norms were in the 1950s and how tragically Turing was cruelly treated by the system for being a homosexual.
    The narrator deserves a medal for his excellent rendition of over 30 hours of recording and mastering the mathematical notations.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Mr J.
    9/5/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing insights into modern history"
    Would you listen to Alan Turing: The Enigma again? Why?

    Yes, to learn more details about the various players that influenced the computing age in particular the many philosophers.


    What does Gordon Griffin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    His accents, whilst they may not be accurate they bring the story to life.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Alan's confused reaction to his arrest and how well it came across that Alan did not understand how English society really would abuse him.


    Any additional comments?

    To those who don't understand the use of Oz in the story it is a constant theme that is not referring to Australia or America but the L Frank Baum story - the expression Friend of Dorothy is key to the author showing us what Alan was.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • David Muir-Clarke
    3/11/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good Story, But Needs To Be Abridged"

    This would be a five star bio if it was more accessible to those not fully educated in math and science
    Plus it's at least two hours too long

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mary Carnegie
    UK
    9/4/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Soporific narration"

    The narrator has a very boring voice and I suspect he doesn't understand or care about what he's reading, and sometimes his pronunciation of names is way off - Auchinleck's not that hard to say, the "ch" isn't like in "chair"! (I do wonder sometimes if anyone on production ever listens to what's being published, or if readers ever rehearse/preview or check words they don't know!)
    There is, of course, a great deal of technical detail, which can be speeded up if you only want the gist, but IMHO, this will be the definitive biography of Turing, who certainly merits a full account of a life mainly in the shadows, which has, paradoxically, influenced his century and ours to an extraordinary extent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • S. Paget
    West Yorkshire
    8/22/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Complex and amazingly thorough."

    This is quite a different story of book than one might expect, if you came to the story of Alan Turing via the Hollywood film, The Imitation Game. While the details of Alan's early life and work at Bletchley Park are chronicled in great detail, they only represent perhaps a third of his remarkable life and achievements.
    Much of this book describes his various theories and research topics involving maths, computing and intelligence. It is a fairly technical book, at times taking diversions into mathematical theory that may seem unnecessary, but it all has relevance in the end and the author has a satisfying store of bringing together ideas from earlier chapters to explain Alan's motivation.

    I would recommend it to anyone studying maths or computer science, or to the reader who is prepared to contemplate some complex ideas.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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