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Cryptonomicon  By  cover art

Cryptonomicon

By: Neal Stephenson
Narrated by: William Dufris
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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 US 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 Detachment 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 granddaughter, 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 listeners say about Cryptonomicon

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Two thirds through and quit

Neal Stephenson books are always highly rated on Audible, but man, this guy just doesn't do it for me. Cryptonomicon jumps around in it's narration for no discernible reason. If you're not listening to it all in one sitting, you're not going to follow the multiple story lines.

But it really doesn't matter because all the story lines are boring anyway. I mean, a couple of them start strong, but boy do they get stale fast.

Two thirds through the book and I barely care about any of the characters. I'm a bit confused as to what's going on in a couple of the plot lines, and too bored by the book to go back and re-listen.

This is the third Stephenson book that made me feel this way. I'm done. And I'm not going to punish myself by sitting through the rest of this plodding nonsense.

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71 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved the Book and "Every-Single-Little-Thing"

I thoroughly love this Cryptonomicon - all 42 hours of the audiobook. I had to re-listen to a couple of the early chapters to sort all the timelines and principal characters, but once I got going, I didn't want it to end. The overall all plot lines and characters had me fully engaged, but what I enjoyed even more the the the astonishing density of insightful observations about every-single-little-thing the characters encounter - especially Waterhouse. I have a thing for patterns myself, and Stephenson's many diversions and doglegs were inspiring and delightful. I found I couldn't listen to Cryptonomicon any way other than absolutely actively engaged or I'd be lost and rewinding chapters for a second listen. Another amazing aspect of Cryptonomicon - any book with with heavy plot lines in tech/coding written twenty-one years ago could have been extremely dated, but it's amazing how many things Stephenson got right and and how many of the issues (bitcoin) are still fresh. Got to give some props to the narrator William Dufris. His many voices really added a lot of nuance for me and heightened many of the humorous scenes. This is my second Neal Stephenson book after Seveneves. I need to go back and listen to some of SE, because I really don't think I would have guessed they came from the same author. Not sure which Stephenson book is next ... Snow Crash, Anathem, Fall or Dodge in Hell. Recommendations appreciate.

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42 people found this helpful

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Solid fun. [>|<]

Enjoyed this performance. Was a bit wary after reading other reviews saying it jumped around and wouldn’t be good unless listened to in one sitting.

Glad I didn’t bother with those reviews. The timeline presented was purposeful, compelling characters woven thoughtfully together. I listened to it over the course of several weeks and had no issue following the narrative.

It was exciting, dark, hilarious and moving. I recommend this one. [>|<]

Narrator nailed the performance, good show.

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31 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Importance of good narration

The narrator almost entirely ruins listening to this book, which was a tremendously good read. Glaringly he mispronounces the frequent Philippine words and place names. He narrates sentence by sentence rather than appreciating the developing line of the story being expressed. I would not have used up two credits for this if I had payed enough attention to sample the quality of narration beforehand. My bad.........

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18 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Just so great.

It’s interesting to absolutely love a 40+ hour audiobook and then read reviews from folks who hated it. Different courses for different horses, I guess. All I can say is this book made everything I was doing while listening (bike riding, cleaning, driving, waiting in line outside Costco) a fantastically better experience than it would have been without having these characters to keep me company. This is a total, unadulterated rave!

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15 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Favorite Author and Perfect Narration. Great Value

This book is long. Could have been 2 or 3. I appreciate the value. This book is intense and jammed packed with interesting situations. it was hard to follow in the beginning but characters were explored in depth. I learned much about digital currency on the side - painlessly lol. Get this book.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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What is this, a man's rights propaganda pamphlet?

What would have made Cryptonomicon better?

less indefensible rhetoric. hes as lazy as Ayn Rand is at creating antagonists--i.e. shallow, poorly represented, emotional, irrational, and stupid characters. Its just unrealistic. At least present the other side of the argument instead of just your strawman.

What was most disappointing about Neal Stephenson’s story?

Author is more interested in his self esteem than creating a good story.

Would you be willing to try another one of William Dufris’s performances?

no, too melodramatic

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15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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the narrator is amazing

I've loved this book for years. Dufris actually Rut's dialect, no mean feat. Do buy.

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13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

What the.... why is this Sci-Fi

Sometimes it really soars; sometimes it really bytes!
I have 2-hour to finish the book and I haven't heard anything that makes me think I listening to a Science Fiction book (unless that means Fictional Science Project).
That being said, I enjoyed the book and will likely buy book 2 (it this is indeed the start of a series).
It more like reading "Destroyermen" for geeks.

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10 people found this helpful

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Overwritten makes me regret buying his other books

I enjoy reading, but having to wait through some chapters to get back to the story...
having to wait half a chapter for backstory... that really isn't relevant.
Overall the ideas are interesting, but too long to get through the other 'stuff'

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7 people found this helpful