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People love secrets. Ever since the first word was written, humans have sent coded messages to each other. In The Code Book, Simon Singh, author of the bestselling Fermat's Enigma, offers a peek into the world of cryptography and codes, from ancient texts through computer encryption. Singh's compelling history is woven through with stories of how codes and ciphers have played a vital role in warfare, politics, and royal intrigue. The major theme of The Code Book is what Singh calls "the ongoing evolutionary battle between codemakers and codebreakers," never more clear than in the chapters devoted to World War II. Cryptography came of age during that conflict, as secret communications became critical to both sides' success.
Confronted with the prospect of defeat, the Allied cryptanalysts had worked night and day to penetrate German ciphers. It would appear that fear was the main driving force, and that adversity is one of the foundations of successful codebreaking.
In the information age, the fear that drives cryptographic improvements is both capitalistic and libertarian--corporations need encryption to ensure that their secrets don't fall into the hands of competitors and regulators, and ordinary people need encryption to keep their everyday communications private in a free society. Similarly, the battles for greater decryption power come from said competitors and governments wary of insurrection.
The Code Book is an excellent primer for those wishing to understand how the human need for privacy has manifested itself through cryptography. Singh's accessible style and clear explanations of complex algorithms cut through the arcane mathematical details without oversimplifying. --Therese Littleton
In an enthralling tour de force of popular explication, Singh, author of the bestselling Fermat's Enigma, explores the impact of cryptographyAthe creation and cracking of coded messagesAon history and society. Some of his examples are familiar, notably the Allies' decryption of the Nazis' Enigma machine during WWII; less well-known is the crucial role of Queen Elizabeth's code breakers in deciphering Mary, Queen of Scots' incriminating missives to her fellow conspirators plotting to assassinate Elizabeth, which led to Mary's beheading in 1587. Singh celebrates a group of unsung heroes of WWII, the Navajo "code talkers," Native American Marine radio operators who, using a coded version of their native language, played a vital role in defeating the Japanese in the Pacific. He also elucidates the intimate links between codes or ciphers and the development of the telegraph, radio, computers and the Internet. As he ranges from Julius Caesar's secret military writing to coded diplomatic messages in feuding Renaissance Italy city-states, from the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone to the ingenuity of modern security experts battling cyber-criminals and cyber-terrorists, Singh clarifies the techniques and tricks of code makers and code breakers alike. He lightens the sometimes technical load with photos, political cartoons, charts, code grids and reproductions of historic documents. He closes with a fascinating look at cryptanalysts' planned and futuristic tools, including the "one-time pad," a seemingly unbreakable form of encryption. In Singh's expert hands, cryptography decodes as an awe-inspiring and mind-expanding story of scientific breakthrough and high drama. Agent, Patrick Walsh. (Oct.) FYI: The book includes a "Cipher Challenge," offering a $15,000 reward to the first person to crack that code.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A really good book which introduces the reader to cryptography by explaining what they are, how the we used in it's time and how to break it.Published 7 days ago by Franck
A real eye opener to codes and ciphers. Written in an easy style to make a complex subject understandable.Published 15 days ago by The Minker
This is an excellent book as have been all of Singh's that I've read. Lots of stimulation to follow-up in more detail. His writing is also very clear and engaging.Published 1 month ago by Dominic
Awesome read, interesting history behind some historical events. No prior knowledge of cryptography is needed to understand the material. Would recommend to buy.Published 4 months ago by Martin
Very readable by pretty much anybody. You either like puzzles or you don't. If you do, you will enjoy the insights into methodology presented here. Read morePublished 8 months ago by DDolsen
Read this book years ago, but lent it to a friend... time to read it again.
This book is well written, and given the subject, very entertaining with 'real-world'... Read more
What I expected to be a dry book on science and mathematics turned into a gripping story of creative successes and dismal failures. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Spaceweasels
This is an Amazing book... The best of it's kind... and the book was received in time and in perfect condition.Published 18 months ago by Carine Normand Dubreuil
This book gives a good history lesson in Codes, and how they were developed. It is written in such a way that its easy to follow and to understand. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Jo-Anne M