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Cryptonomicon zooms all over the world, careening conspiratorially back and forth between two time periods--World War II and the present. Our 1940s heroes are the brilliant mathematician Lawrence Waterhouse, cryptanalyst extraordinaire, and gung ho, morphine-addicted marine Bobby Shaftoe. They're part of Detachment 2702, an Allied group trying to break Axis communication codes while simultaneously preventing the enemy from figuring out that their codes have been broken. Their job boils down to layer upon layer of deception. Dr. Alan Turing is also a member of 2702, and he explains the unit's strange workings to Waterhouse. "When we want to sink a convoy, we send out an observation plane first.... Of course, to observe is not its real duty--we already know exactly where the convoy is. Its real duty is to be observed.... Then, when we come round and sink them, the Germans will not find it suspicious."
All of this secrecy resonates in the present-day story line, in which the grandchildren of the WWII heroes--inimitable programming geek Randy Waterhouse and the lovely and powerful Amy Shaftoe--team up to help create an offshore data haven in Southeast Asia and maybe uncover some gold once destined for Nazi coffers. To top off the paranoiac tone of the book, the mysterious Enoch Root, key member of Detachment 2702 and the Societas Eruditorum, pops up with an unbreakable encryption scheme left over from WWII to befuddle the 1990s protagonists with conspiratorial ties.
Cryptonomicon is vintage Stephenson from start to finish: short on plot, but long on detail so precise it's exhausting. Every page has a math problem, a quotable in-joke, an amazing idea, or a bit of sharp prose. Cryptonomicon is also packed with truly weird characters, funky tech, and crypto--all the crypto you'll ever need, in fact, not to mention all the computer jargon of the moment. A word to the wise: if you read this book in one sitting, you may die of information overload (and starvation). --Therese Littleton
In short, and unfortunately, it's quite boring.
All the characters are the same: same behaviour, same humour, same psyche. Read more
Brilliant! Vintage Stephenson. The mind boggles at the immense amount of information contained within NS's world. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dr Rif Kamil
....tough book for me to get into. Highly Math oriented and sometimes I would get bogged down in all of that. But Mr Stephenson sure knows how to tell a fascinating storyPublished 17 months ago by Bootsy Bass
I don't know what else to add to this book that has not been said before. This book is a true classic!Published 24 months ago by Jeff Saucier
Neal Stephenson ably juggles multiple story lines in multiple timelines with a variety of fascinating and quirky characters while also managing to develop a fascinating treatise on... Read morePublished on Dec 30 2011 by McMalph
Book arrived later than expected. That might have not been the shipper's fault, but they didn't bother responding to my email when I was trying to find out where the book was a... Read morePublished on Aug. 6 2011 by veecta
It's been years now, but I can still recall the utter absorption... the humour, marvelous wit, the history come alive, ... this is a suspense novel for science buffs in a way. Read morePublished on Feb. 28 2011 by Lisa
This is the kind of great novel that, without any pretensions of intellectualism (but an enormous display of intelligence), is both immense in scope, bold in vision, and... Read morePublished on April 3 2010 by Nathan Andersen
I have been saying this (woe to hyse) outloud for over a year now and still get a kick out of it (read it-you'll get it). So much so that I am re-reading the novel. Read morePublished on Aug. 3 2004 by eric bergeron