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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

Critic Reviews

  • Locus Award, Best Novel, 2000

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Magnificent!

Any additional comments?

After delving into Stephenson's work, moving backwards entirely by accident (Seveneves, Anathem, now Cryptonomicon), I can confidently say he is one of my favorite authors.<br/><br/>Cryptonomicon is an utterly engaging, thoughtfully arranged, and brilliantly characterized work of historical/speculative fiction. The level of knowledge and passion with which he writes about subjects which would otherwise seem mundane is consistently impressive. He is able to make number theory and its impact on the development of cryptographic systems read like prose. A listener or reader with even the most remote interest in mathematics, technology, or just history will feel more than satisfied with how it is served. I learned a lot of things about a lot of different subjects from this book; geography, foreign culture and politics, geology, mathematics, number theory, computer encryption, etc. Stephenson is a vastly knowledegable writer and it shows readily, without ever feeling remotely dry, patronizing, or as if you are being lectured.<br/><br/>The story itself is told masterfully, jumping between characters and time periods with perfect pacing, so that no single scenario ever feels drawn out. Each time a chapter turned, I was simultaneously eager to return to the previous character to know what happens next, but overjoyed at the return to the character in the new chapter. All of the characters are connected in subtly realistic but vastly important ways, and all of their interactions feel perfectly human, and they come alive in the reader's mind. After reading the synopses for The Baroque Cycle and learning that Cryptonomicon characters' ancestors are involved, I'm excited to start listening to the series. I cannot say enough good things about this novel.<br/><br/>On top of all of this is William Dufris's narration. I became a huge fan of his narration with Anathem, and was further impressed in Cryptonomicon. His speech is perfectly paced, and he lends each character a distinct and consistent voice which feels perfectly suited to their demeanor and personality. Should Stephenson release another novel soon, I nominate Dufris to read it for Audible.

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perfect

I love this book! highly. recommend it to anyone who likes history and fictional stories.

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Could not finish

Narrator was too annoying, with characters voices. Seemed like it was forced especially with the Marine. If he did not try to act out every character it may have been better. Could not finish.

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The thesaurus in a loosely narrative form

I don't usually give up on books I paid for, but this one was terrible. I'm pretty sure the main character suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and that might have had something to do with the narrative. I was optimistic that it might change with a new time period and new narrator. Once the author started in on the most bizarre collection of metaphors describing the scenery in a style of prose that would make even Tolkien say "Dear God, man, that's enough already!" I lost patience with it and gave up. Maybe it gets better. I'll leave that for other people to decide because I am over it.

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If 17 years out of date it is still fantastic

This book is really fantastic, there are a lot of details that are included that weren't widely know by in the late 90s or even early 2000s. Even with the age of the book the concepts and ideas still hold up and help support a great story spanning 3 generations.

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Among the most long-winded authors around.

Would you try another book from Neal Stephenson and/or William Dufris?

Not my first Neal Stephenson book, but certainly my last.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Much, much better.

What about William Dufris’s performance did you like?

The narrator was great and did a fine job voicing the many characters.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Regret that I wasted a credit.

Any additional comments?

This book would have been fine if the author hadn't tried to turn a normal length novel into an epic tale. The amount of filler was truly astounding! A decent editor could have cut this book in half without hurting the plot. I was constantly waiting for points to be made while the author droned on and on. Then the book ended, not with a bang but with a fizzle.<br/><br/>This book left me exhausted, which is not how a book normally leaves me. It should be a variety of emotions and thinking about what I just read. When this book ended my only thoughts were "Thats it?!" and "At least it's over." <br/><br/>This book was a true waste of time and an utter disappointment.

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great story telling

very fun story, excellent reading, historically interesting. all around good read. some minor glitches, but not sure if that was just my downloaded copy.

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Always excellent!

I love this meandering story. A must have in your library for any Stephenson fan.

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Worse than Stephen King

What would have made Cryptonomicon better?

Well, lets just say that i dont know of anything that could have made this book better. Less needless description maybe.

Would you ever listen to anything by Neal Stephenson again?

absolutely not

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

the performance was decent. different voices, different personalities, etc. He just read a bad book.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

morbid depression and confusion

Any additional comments?

This is my first review and i have been a member for about 6 months, with many purchases. I wanted to find another genre to get into. I enjoy The Remaining, Monster hunters international, Mountain Man, things like that. This book spent 25 minutes describing...in slow, agonizing detail... the math that figured out how far a bike will go if it has one bent gear tooth and one bad link in the chain... Painful. 15 minutes telling the history of a womans' outfit and the reason that her people think color of any kind is sinful. And she didnt even have any part in the story.....Painful. If you like to listen someone read things like "the letter read q, t, l. s, t, l ,k, a, p, e, s, n, x, but i figured out that l = e. So now it read, q, t, E, s, t, E, k," etc., then you might enjoy this book. Its like Stephen King meets fictional, jumbled history.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Epic saga of the digital era since WWII

it's everything that any nerd would ever want in a novel about the emergence of computers and encrypted communication, sprinkled with excellent commentary about humanity's relationship with technology. it was really long, but i was still sad when it ended. it never dragged, although some of the shorter vignettes were not much more interesting/funny than personal blogs or facebook posts. but hey, this was written before that stuff proliferated -- once again showing stephenson's prescience.

the narrator was a 9 out of 10 and did a great job with the many ethnic accents and military personalities.