With this extraordinary first volume in what promises to be an epoch-making masterpiece, Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century. As an added bonus, the e-book edition of this New York Times bestseller includes an excerpt from Stephenson's new novel, Seveneves.
In 1942, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse—mathematical genius and young Captain in the U.S. Navy—is assigned to detachment 2702. It is an outfit so secret that only a handful of people know it exists, and some of those people have names like Churchill and Roosevelt. The mission of Waterhouse and Detachment 2702—commanded by Marine Raider Bobby Shaftoe-is to keep the Nazis ignorant of the fact that Allied Intelligence has cracked the enemy's fabled Enigma code. It is a game, a cryptographic chess match between Waterhouse and his German counterpart, translated into action by the gung-ho Shaftoe and his forces.
Fast-forward to the present, where Waterhouse's crypto-hacker grandson, Randy, is attempting to create a "data haven" in Southeast Asia—a place where encrypted data can be stored and exchanged free of repression and scrutiny. As governments and multinationals attack the endeavor, Randy joins forces with Shaftoe's tough-as-nails granddaughter, Amy, to secretly salvage a sunken Nazi submarine that holds the key to keeping the dream of a data haven afloat. But soon their scheme brings to light a massive conspiracy with its roots in Detachment 2702 linked to an unbreakable Nazi code called Arethusa. And it will represent the path to unimaginable riches and a future of personal and digital liberty...or to universal totalitarianism reborn.
A breathtaking tour de force, and Neal Stephenson's most accomplished and affecting work to date, Cryptonomicon is profound and prophetic, hypnotic and hyper-driven, as it leaps forward and back between World War II and the World Wide Web, hinting all the while at a dark day-after-tomorrow. It is a work of great art, thought and creative daring; the product of a truly iconoclastic imagination working with white-hot intensity.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Published in 1999, Neal Stephenson’s ambitious third novel is a techno-thriller that shifts between cryptography labs in World War II Britain and the cyber underground of the late 20th-century internet boom. Epic and imaginative, Cryptonomicon weaves historical figures like Alan Turing and Ronald Reagan into the stories of the fictional (and supersmart) Waterhouse and Shaftoe families. The result is a compelling conspiracy that pulls from mathematics, military history, and the frontiers of computing. Stephenson’s insights have proven to be spot-on, particularly his ideas about digital currency and the threats to personal privacy.
Big, complex and ambitious, the new cyber-thriller from the talented author of Snowcrash and The Diamond Age calls to mind Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow in its intense, paranoid evocation of conspiracies and secret histories. Set in part during WWII, Stephenson's novel concerns Lawrence Waterhouse, mathematical genius, a friend of Alan Turing and, like Turing, a code breaker extraordinaire. Assigned to the super-secret Detachment 2702, Waterhouse is instrumental in the Allied plot to keep the Nazis unaware that their fabled Enigma code has been broken. Almost as a sideline, he helps trigger the computer age. Nearly 60 years later, Waterhouse's grandson Randy, a computer hacker with a knack for cryptanalysis, is attempting to create a high-tech data haven in Southeast Asia, only to discover that a variety of governments, multinationals and shadowy secret organizations want a piece of his company's action. Uncovering evidence of a long-dormant conspiracy with its roots partly in his grandfather's work in cryptology, Randy eventually discovers that enormous amounts of war gold are involved, enough not just to make him and his fellow hackers wealthy but to change the entire economy of the planet. This fast-paced, genre-transcending novel is full of absorbing action, witty dialogue and well-drawn characters. Amazingly, it is also, even at its tremendous length, only the first volume in what promises to be one of the most extravagant literary creations of the turn of the millennium--and beyond. Major ad/promo; author tour.
Got me into reading
I'm a 30+ functioning illiterate. I can read, but I've never read for pleasure. This book changed that for me. Yes, the book was dense and long, but I couldn't put it down. Looking forward to reading more of his work.
I just finished Cryptonomicon for the 2nd time. This is one of the greatest novels I have ever read. A very fine novelist's finest work.
Great book, pretty good ebook
The book itself is great. I couldn't put it down and I find myself more interested in WW2 history after some of the fiction/non-fiction mashups that Stephenson played with in the book. I'm not really a math purist but loved the book.
The eBook was a good production. My only complaint was that there was probably something like 20-30 words that had spaces in them. I'm assuming some artifact of moving from fixed width layout where there were line breaks to a dynamic width. It wasn't overly distracting.