Alan Turing was an extraordinary man who crammed into a life of only 42 years the careers of mathematician, codebreaker, computer scientist and biologist. He is widely regarded as a war hero grossly mistreated by his unappreciative country, and it has become hard to disentangle the real man from the story. It is easy to cast him as a misfit, the stereotypical professor.
But actually Alan Turing was never a professor, and his nickname, 'Prof', was given by his codebreaking friends at Bletchley Park. Now Alan Turing's nephew, Dermot Turing, has taken a fresh look at the influences on Alan Turing's life and creativity and the later creation of a legend.
For the first time it is possible to disclose the real character behind the cipher-text: how did Alan’s childhood experiences influence the man? Who were the influential figures in Alan's formative years? How did his creative ideas evolve? Was he really a solitary, asocial genius? What was his wartime work after 1942, and why was it kept even more secret than the Enigma story? What is the truth about Alan Turing's conviction for gross indecency, and did he commit suicide? What is the significance of the Royal Pardon granted in 2013?
In Dermot's own style he takes a vibrant and entertaining approach to the life and work of a true genius.
Written by Alan Turing's nephew, this is more accessible than Hodges' comprehensive biography, and more up to date, as more documents as now available, and he was able to speak to some of those who knew his uncle. Even though Dermot Turing tells us Alan was little spoken of at home, the family connection does bring something extra to the narrative - and he is following in the footsteps of his father John and grandmother Sara in writing about this unusual genius.
Attitudes have evolved, too, so the occasional lapses of Hodges's account into outmoded terms aren't there to give the reader/listener an involuntary shiver from time to time.
The narrator is much better than Gordon Griffin, who tends to send me to sleep!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Having recently visited the Alan Turing memorial at Manchester I decided that I would like to find out more about him than the facts I knew from the film and short biographies I had read. I am so pleased that I opted for this biography written by a family member. It gives a through, thoughtful and tender insight into an individual of soaring genius but there is no reason to be a maths or computer specialist to appreciate how far ahead of his time Alan Turing was. The listener gets a very full account of his life from birth to his much too early death. Beautifully narrated I recommend it to anyone wishing to get a better understanding of a remarkable man.