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Publisher Description

The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography

From the best-selling author of Fermat’s Last Theorem, The Code Book is a history of man’s urge to uncover the secrets of codes, from Egyptian puzzles to modern day computer encryptions.

As in Fermat’s Last Theorem, Simon Singh brings life to an anstonishing story of puzzles, codes, languages and riddles that reveals man’s continual pursuit to disguise and uncover, and to work out the secret languages of others.

Codes have influenced events throughout history, both in the stories of those who make them and those who break them. The betrayal of Mary Queen of Scots and the cracking of the enigma code that helped the Allies in World War II are major episodes in a continuing history of cryptography. In addition to stories of intrigue and warfare, Simon Singh also investigates other codes, the unravelling of genes and the rediscovery of ancient languages and most tantalisingly, the Beale ciphers, an unbroken code that could hold the key to a $20 million treasure.

Note that it has not been possible to include the same picture content that appeared in the original print version.


‘A fascinating meander through the centuries; replete with tales of intrigue, political chicanery, military secrecy and academic rivalry.’
The Times

About the author

Simon Singh is a science journalist and TV producer. Having completed his PhD at Cambridge he worked from 1991 to 1997 at the BBC producing Tomorrow’s World and co-directing the BAFTA award-winning documentary Fermat’s Last Theorem for the Horizon series. In 1997, he published Fermat’s Last Theorem, which was a best-seller in Britain and translated into 22 languages.

Science & Nature
June 24
Fourth Estate

Customer Reviews

Tahi Gichigi ,

A longy and a goodie

Great, well-explained overview of codes and cyphers, touching on key points in history that make you realise just how they've steered and decided the outcome of some of our biggest events.

You really get a sense of the author's authority and passion for the subject, plus having held some back. The only shame is that due to the amount of people involved in the evolution of codes and cyphers you'll never remember all the names. At times the author is slightly over explanatory but would prefer that than under!

One of the best non-fiction I've read so far.

M. Poirot ,


This book gives a wonderful introduction to the world of codes and cryptography. From Mary Queen of Scots to the Modern Day this book is sure to spark interest in this often cloaked subject.

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