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Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing (Dover Children's Activity Books) [Paperback]

Martin Gardner
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Mar 2003 Dover Children's Activity Books
"A fascinating, challenging book." — A. L. A. Booklist. Experiment with cryptography — the science of secret writing. Cipher and decipher codes: transposition and polyalphabetical ciphers, famous codes, typewriter and telephone codes, codes that use playing cards, knots, and swizzle sticks...even invisible writing and sending messages through outer space. Hours of intrigue and challenge. 45 diagrams.

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Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing (Dover Children's Activity Books) + The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-breaking
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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc. (28 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486247619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486247618
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 13.7 x 0.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 127,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Martin Gardner was a renowned author who published over 70 books on subjects from science and math to poetry and religion. He also had a lifelong passion for magic tricks and puzzles. Well known for his mathematical games column in Scientific American and his "Trick of the Month" in Physics Teacher magazine, Gardner attracted a loyal following with his intelligence, wit, and imagination. Martin Gardner: A Remembrance The worldwide mathematical community was saddened by the death of Martin Gardner on May 22, 2010. Martin was 95 years old when he died, and had written 70 or 80 books during his long lifetime as an author. Martin's first Dover books were published in 1956 and 1957: Mathematics, Magic and Mystery, one of the first popular books on the intellectual excitement of mathematics to reach a wide audience, and Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, certainly one of the first popular books to cast a devastatingly skeptical eye on the claims of pseudoscience and the many guises in which the modern world has given rise to it. Both of these pioneering books are still in print with Dover today along with more than a dozen other titles of Martin's books. They run the gamut from his elementary Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing, which has been enjoyed by generations of younger readers since the 1980s, to the more demanding The New Ambidextrous Universe: Symmetry and Asymmetry from Mirror Reflections to Superstrings, which Dover published in its final revised form in 2005. To those of us who have been associated with Dover for a long time, however, Martin was more than an author, albeit a remarkably popular and successful one. As a member of the small group of long-time advisors and consultants, which included NYU's Morris Kline in mathematics, Harvard's I. Bernard Cohen in the history of science, and MIT's J. P. Den Hartog in engineering, Martin's advice and editorial suggestions in the formative 1950s helped to define the Dover publishing program and give it the point of view which — despite many changes, new directions, and the consequences of evolution — continues to be operative today. In the Author's Own Words: "Politicians, real-estate agents, used-car salesmen, and advertising copy-writers are expected to stretch facts in self-serving directions, but scientists who falsify their results are regarded by their peers as committing an inexcusable crime. Yet the sad fact is that the history of science swarms with cases of outright fakery and instances of scientists who unconsciously distorted their work by seeing it through lenses of passionately held beliefs." "A surprising proportion of mathematicians are accomplished musicians. Is it because music and mathematics share patterns that are beautiful?" — Martin Gardner


Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars fun for beginners... 3 July 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Very well written. This book offers an introduction to "crypto-stuff" such as mono/polyalphabetic substitutions and grille methods. It doesn't go into much of anything else in huge detail, but it offers many methods including "how to build" your own encoding/decoding tools. If you're looking for some fun reading, I highly recommend it. If you're serious about learning though, check out "the code breakers" by kahn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book 6 Mar 2014
By Abbie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Love this kind of book and love codes. Found it very easy to understand. I also enjoyed learning about the history behind all the codes.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a fascinating introductory book about codes and ciphers. It is very readable and understandable for young adults and older. Anyone who is interested in codes and ciphers will like, and want to own this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fab 1 Feb 2014
By me
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
bought to help me do my final year project. has been a good read and will be reading again in the future!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars fun for beginners... 3 July 1999
By "usdevildogs" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Very well written. This book offers an introduction to "crypto-stuff" such as mono/polyalphabetic substitutions and grille methods. It doesn't go into much of anything else in huge detail, but it offers many methods including "how to build" your own encoding/decoding tools. If you're looking for some fun reading, I highly recommend it. If you're serious about learning though, check out "the code breakers" by kahn.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Non-Mathematical Intro to Ciphers of Historical Interest 13 Jun 2007
By Jeff Martens - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a good, well-written book requiring essentially no mathematical background. It's appropriate for teens and older folks interested ciphers. As another writer has pointed out, it's not current (this is a Dover reprint of a 1972 Simon & Schuster work), and the very few places where it says a code is still in use, it's likely not. I don't view this as a problem.

Ciphers are categorized and historical development is given. Invisible inks and the like are discussed, as are microdots, and SETI, though not by that name. Modern ciphers get no mention whatsoever--thus the non-mathematical nature. The approach doesn't consider computers to any real extent. Also, certain historical items that could have been covered, like the Enigma, aren't mentioned.

There are three weaknesses, IMHO, that keep it below 5 stars.
(1) Most of the ciphers presented have a set of possible setups, which can effectively be considered keys. E.g., the Caesar Cipher, using the Roman alphabet, has 25 different possible versions, which can be considered 25 different keys. Gardner makes no attempt to explain the relative complexities of breaking the various ciphers.
(2) The age.
(3) There is no index, but the table of contents is detailed.

I expect to use a few of these ciphers in introductory computing classes (think CS1, CS2) in the near future--the explanations are clear enough for undergrads with no real background and minimal interest.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good basic codes, great for beginners. 28 Sep 2002
By M.B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great reference of basic codes. Excellent explanations, examples. Don't expect anything too intense, and you won't be disappointed.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very educational, practical introduction to codes & ciphers 5 Feb 1999
By Jonathan Clegg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating introductory book about codes and ciphers. It is very readable and understandable for young adults and older. Anyone who is interested in codes and ciphers will like, and want to own this book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible book on codes, for amateurs and kids 11 April 2012
By David Goldhaber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This review was written together with my 9-year-old son.

This book covers many ciphers and codes which we hadn't seen in other books. It also has many cool techniques for disguising messages, which my son found himself experimenting with in science class. If you like this book, you may also enjoy Martin Gardner's many math books (and vice versa).
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