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Codebreaker [Hardcover]

Stephen Pincock
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 31 2006
From the time of the ancient pharaohs to the modern world of Internet banking, civilization has relied on codes and ciphers to keep its secrets. The 4,000-year history of cryptography has been a kind of arms race: Each time a more complex encryption has been developed, it has been attacked and, more often than not, decoded; and each time, in response, codemakers have produced tougher and tougher codes.

Codebreaker surveys the entire history of codes through an eloquent narrative and an evocative range of illustrations, paying special attention to famous codes that have never been broken, such as the Beale Ciphers, the Voynich manuscript, the Easter Island code, and many more. Many great names in history appear throughout, from Caesar and Mary Queen of Scots, to Samuel Morse and Alan Turing. The narrative is based in part on interviews with cryptology experts, Navaho windtalkers, decryption experts, and law enforcement experts, and ends with a vision of the coded future via quantum cryptography.


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About the Author

Stephen Pincock is a news editor for The Scientist magazine, and a science columnist for the Financial Times magazine. A trained biochemist and science journalist, Pincock has long had a fascination for deciphering codes and for the history of espionage. He has written widely about the history and development of cryptology, technology, and science.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to the history of cryptography Feb. 1 2009
Format:Hardcover
This book provides a brief introduction to the history of cryptography. It starts from the Ceaser shift cipher and ends with quantum cryptography.

It is a fun and informative read if you are interested in an overview of the history of cryptography.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good overview Nov. 14 2006
By Jake - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is a good overview of codebreaking for non-technical people. It discusses many different types of ciphers throughout history in a very easy to understand way. I enjoyed it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Introduction to Codes Feb. 8 2009
By The Old Wise Man - Published on Amazon.com
This is a wonderful piece of work, well written, documented, illustrated and is aimed at the general reader. The author includes code analysis sections for each code that is discussed, where each code is explained in detail so that the reader is able to try the code themselves. The author also further challenges the reader with an appendix full of codes for the reader to crack with their newly acquired skills.
There are sections throughout the book where the reader is introduced to the important people relating to specific codes, as well as many sections about codes that are still unbroken.
The author chronicles all the important codes and their impact upon history from way back in ancient Egypt as well as Caesar's code, all the way through to the future of codes; quantum cryptography, and everything in between.

This is a superb book in every manner, and a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Five stars.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read March 11 2012
By Jason Youzwak - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This was a good read - interesting history, nice layout, and overall easy to follow.
The challenge problems are fun.

However, I have noticed at least one mistake in the book:
p.134 "...P is 11 and Q is 17. We first multiply P and Q together, making 181."

11 times 17 = 187, not 181
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite good. May 9 2011
By Robwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I reflect all the positive things said about this book, so I'll only focus on the negative aspects, to which there's only one, and it has nothing to do with the book. As mentioned earlier, there are challenge exercises in the appendix. The appendix says that if you get stumped, you can go to the publisher's website to get the solutions. I made it through the first 3 with no problems, but when it came to the fourth, I have no clue how to solve it. So I go to the website and look up the solution in some vane attempt to see how the solution is derrived without actually seeing the solution so I can still come up with it myself, but unlike the three before it, where the site goes into detail about how they're solved, the site only gives the solution for the fourth and offers no walkthrough of the puzzle whatsoever. Thanks, guys!
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read! July 29 2013
By sodiumsulfate - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had a lot of fun reading this book. If you like history and seeing how clever men found ways to get secret messages past enemy eyes, you'll enjoy reading this. One of the first things people think when they read bout cryptography is that its going to be a math book but its not. It explains how the codes work in an easy to read fashion.
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