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Digital Fortress: A Thriller [Hardcover]

Dan Brown
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (443 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 15 2004
Before the multi-million, runaway bestseller The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown set his razor-sharp research and storytelling skills on the most powerful intelligence organization on earth--the National Security Agency (NSA), an ultra-secret, multibillion-dollar agency many times more powerful than the CIA.

When the NSA's invincible code-breaking machine encounters a mysterious code it cannot break, the agency calls its head cryptographer, Susan Fletcher, a brilliant and beautiful mathematician. What she uncovers sends shock waves through the corridors of power. The NSA is being held hostage...not by guns or bombs, but by a code so ingeniously complex that if released it would cripple U.S. intelligence.

Caught in an accelerating tempest of secrecy and lies, Susan Fletcher battles to save the agency she believes in. Betrayed on all sides, she finds herself fighting not only for her country but for her life, and in the end, for the life of the man she loves.

From the underground hallways of power to the skyscrapers of Tokyo to the towering cathedrals of Spain, a desperate race unfolds. It is a battle for survival--a crucial bid to destroy a creation of inconceivable impregnable code-writing formula that threatens to obliterate the post-cold war balance of power. Forever.

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From Amazon

In most thrillers, "hardware" consists of big guns, airplanes, military vehicles, and weapons that make things explode. Dan Brown has written a thriller for those of us who like our hardware with disc drives and who rate our heroes by big brainpower rather than big firepower. It's an Internet user's spy novel where the good guys and bad guys struggle over secrets somewhat more intellectual than just where the secret formula is hidden--they have to gain understanding of what the secret formula actually is.

In this case, the secret formula is a new means of encryption, capable of changing the balance of international power. Part of the fun is that the book takes the reader along into an understanding of encryption technologies. You'll find yourself better understanding the political battles over such real-life technologies as the Clipper Chip and PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) software even though the book looks at the issues through the eyes of fiction.

Although there's enough globehopping in this book for James Bond, the real battleground is cyberspace, because that's where the "bomb" (or rather, the new encryption algorithm) will explode. Yes, there are a few flaws in the plot if you look too closely, but the cleverness and the sheer fun of it all more than make up for them. There are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and a lot of high, gee-whiz-level information about encryption, code breaking, and the role they play in international politics. Set aside the whole afternoon and evening for it and have finger food on hand for supper--you may want to read this one straight through. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The National Security Agency (NSA) is one setting for this exciting thriller; the other is Seville, where on page 1 the protagonist, lately dismissed from NSA, drops dead of a supposed heart attack. Though dead, he enjoys a dramaturgical afterlife in the form of his computer program. Digital Fortress creates unbreakable codes, which could render useless NSA's code-cracking supercomputer called TRANSLTR, but the deceased programmer slyly embossed a decryption key on a ring he wore. Pursuit of this ring is the engine of the plot. NSA cryptology boss Trevor Strathmore dispatches linguist Dave Becker to recover the ring, while he and Becker's lover, senior code-cracker Susan Fletcher, ponder the vulnerability of TRANSLTR. In Seville, over-the-top chase scenes abound; meanwhile, the critical events unfold at NSA. In a crescendo of murder, infernos, and explosions, it emerges that Strathmore has as agenda that goes beyond breaching Digital Fortress, and Brown's skill at hinting and concealing Strathmore's deceit will rivet cyber-minded readers. Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Read June 16 2006
By L. Ha
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Dan Brown has inspired me to read and actually find it enjoyable. I was never a vivid reader and despised reading most books I picked up "Deception Point," another novel by Dan Brown. I read it and was hooked. For each of Dan Brown's 4 books, I have never been so into a book in my life, I read for hours on end hoping to finish the novel to read the ending. Admittedly, I believe that The Da Vinci Code was over-hyped. Of the 4 books of his that I have read, The Da Vinci code was the worst. Digital Fortress, however, was not disappointing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Digitally good May 23 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Normally one to keep to something our book club is reading ("Life of Pi" by Martel, or "Katzenjammer" by McCrae), I veered off the path in search of my own "grail." Low and behold, I found Dan Brown. No I have NOT read "Da Vinci Code" but I will. DF is my first book of his and I loved it! This is just not something I'd ususally pick up, but WOW! What a punch this one packs. I guess if you're expecting a hyped up book, you might be disappointed, but I hadn't heard that much about "this one" and wasn't expecting much. Must also recommend the novels "About a Boy," and "Katzenjammer" by McCrae. Also, anything by Brown.
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While I have generally enjoyed all of Dan Brown's stories, I found Digital Fortress somewhat unbelievable and far-fetched. For a work of fiction, an adventure and thriller, it meets the requirements, so long as you don't delve too deeply into the facts or science. The abilities of the characters also don't quite meet the mark - somewhat unbelievable and not in the realm of reality. While looking for something new to put a better taste in my mouth, I discovered a new thriller recently whose characters (unique) and strong science and facts, provided me with more thought-provoking ideas - Fusion, by Bruce Huntly. This one has ideas and characters you can enjoy and take seriously, and he even provides a possible solution to some of today's energy problems. I would recommend Fusion as a serious addition for readers of Dan Brown and Michael Crichton. Don't get me wrong, Digital Fortress keeps your attention and is an entertaining enough book but it fell short on some of my expectations.
Also recommended: Bruce Huntly: Fusion; Dan Brown: The Da Vinci Code, Deception Point; John Grisham: The Broker; Michael Crichton: State of Fear; Douglas Preston, Tyrannosaur Canyon.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Same plot over again, but still worth reading Oct. 8 2005
This is the 3rd book I read from Dan Brown. I started with da Vinci Code like everyone and loved it. So I went on and read Deception Point, and now I just finished Digital Fortress. The latter two had exacly the same plot as the first one. Reading DF, I found myself skipping pages forward a couple of times, since it was so easy to predict what was gonna happen and I just couldn't read it again.
If this is the first book you read from Brown and you are not too much aware of computer security, you will love it. But if it isn't the first book, you'll easily guess the plot since the author uses the exact same plot through all the books I read from him. I still think it's worth reading if this is not your first Dan Brown but as I said, you we be a little disapointed with the plot.
Now, I'm an expert in the field of computer science security. Two third of the books I read from this author, and I know Angels and Demons deal with that to, have to do with cryptography. So, I think Dan Brown should get a lot more knowledge about cryptography and computer security before publishing his next novel. It seems to me that he just got a few "buzz" words from some cryptograhers so that he could throw them in the novels as needed. Also, some of his puzzles like the one in da Vinci code where you have to look in a mirror to decrypt a message, are way too easy. I'm not asking for puzzles imposible to solve, but at least something that would challenge the average reader. This is true for some puzzles in DF also.
Not all bad comes from Dan Brown's novels. I found that it is really well written and interesting. When I start reading his books, I know I wont be able to stop for a couple hundred pages. I love the fact that he bases his stories on hightech consiparies.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth A Look! June 24 2005
Although "The Fort" (Fort Meade, home of the legendary and most secretive National Security Agency) seems to be at the thematic center of this book, the author, a member of the high-IQ Mensa society, is at least as much interested in humanizing the male and female protagonists (both of whom have IQs that would dwarf those of plain vanilla Mensans) as in the maze-like nuances of abusing code making and code breaking in the computer age.
True enough, the opportunities for rogue activities abound in the "black world" of cryptography -- and, plausibly, they might even extend to the highest reaches of the organization whose mission was so sensitive that even its acronym remained classified until very recently.
Clearly, the author risks treading on the sacred, potentially killing ground that he fictionally represents. Indeed, the author claims to have been informed of details about the NSA by two trusted aficionados of the secret world.
He did not need to acknowledge these sources since his fictional work is harmless fun -- only interesting to the crypto lords and wizards, perhaps, for its recruiting potential (and NSA is facing a crisis of personnel as perhaps never before in its history).
Yet the games presented in the Fort -- and in the field -- to complicate the mystery and to bring it to a literarily satisfying conclusion have a pattern too, and for those interested in trying their mastery of the black arts, a coded message is included.
The pattern and play of the work do suggest that high spirits and thinking "on the fly" are still valuable -- Cold War or none! I enjoyed this book great, but try it for yourself. Pick up a copy! Another book I need to recommend -- very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an unconventional, weirdly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected
Almost didn't read this because of online reviews but it was better than I thought it would be. Not Dan Brown's greatest but still a good read.
Published 3 months ago by Regina
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars!
I enjoyed this book even more than Deception Point, which is saying a lot because I really loved that one. So many twists and turns here. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Vamplover
5.0 out of 5 stars Dan Brown
Dan Brown has a unique way of writing his story , it,s ease to follow and hard to put down. This one is definitely a book I would recommend .Enjoy.
Published 5 months ago by Humming Bird
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping Read
Dan Brown's characters are believable even when his plot is over-contrived as here. It is interesting to see how the author developed his genius as he moved on chronologically.
Published 7 months ago by Connie Blenkinsop
3.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Idea
I liked the idea of this book more than the execution. With this book, Mr. Brown still hadn't found his voice yet so I would only recommend it for those who don't expect one of his... Read more
Published 9 months ago by John Sliz
4.0 out of 5 stars Digital Fortress
A good read but, quite a departure from the Dan Brown we have come to expect. I got a bit of a head ache trying to read all the encoded script. Recommend if you like techy novels.
Published 14 months ago by Ken Foxcroft
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW-good
Another one-day in the life of adventure - where everyone dies and some come back from the dead.

I LIKE because I trust Dan Brown's work to fulfill exactly what I seek... Read more
Published 14 months ago by valeria kennedy
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
A very gripping read! Mr. Brown writes in a way that keep you wanting to know what happens next. I have read his other books and can't wait for his newest. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Elizabeth Prinsloo
2.0 out of 5 stars Wrong type of print
Took some time to review but was disappointed that the copy came in large print so it wasn't able to stay in our collection of great reads. Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2012 by G. Lundgren
5.0 out of 5 stars Typical Dan Brown Great Read!
I cannot recall a time when I read a book cover to cover in one sitting. I would try to stop but everytime I put it down I was back at it in minutes. Read more
Published on June 12 2011 by J Reader
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