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Enigma Paperback – 2 May 1996

191 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 389 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow Books; New Ed edition (2 May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780099992004
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099992004
  • ASIN: 0099992000
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 3.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 622,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Harris is the author Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, Imperium and The Ghost - all of which were worldwide bestsellers. His work has been translated into thirty-three languages. He was born in Nottingham in 1957 and is a graduate of Cambridge University. He worked as a reporter on the BBC's Newsnight and Panorama programmes, before becoming Political Editor of the Observer in 1987, and then a columnist on the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph. In 2003 he was named Columnist of the Year in the British Press Awards. He lives near Hungerford in Berkshire with his wife and their four children.

Product Description

Amazon Review

A gripping World War II mystery novel with a cryptographic twist, Enigma's hero is Tom Jericho, a brilliant British mathematician working as a member of the team struggling to crack the Nazi Enigma code. Jericho's own struggles include nerve-wracking mental labour, the mysterious disappearance of a former girlfriend, the suspicions of his coworkers within the paranoid high-security project, and the certainty that someone close to him, perhaps the missing girl, is a Nazi spy. The plot is pure fiction but the historical background, Alan Turing's famous wartime computing project that cracked the German U-boat communications code, is real and accurately portrayed. Enigma is convincingly plotted, forcefully written, and filled with well-drawn characters; in short, it's everything a good techno-mystery should be. --James Early

Review

"The brilliance of Enigma is that it gives readers the sense of being contemporary with its characters and then leads them on a dark journey of discovery to arrive at another of the Second World War's blackest horror stories, one not fully admitted until half a century later... Altogether top-class stuff." (Peter Millar The Times)

"Enigma totally gripped me" (Roy Jenkins Sunday Times)

"After the resounding success of his first novel, Fatherland, the question was what would Robert Harris do for an encore? This is his resounding answer" (Phillip Knightley Mail on Sunday)

"Extraordinarily good... undoubtedly the best thriller of the year, and perhaps of several years to come" (T. J. Binyon Evening Standard)

"I finished the book regretful it had ended, and full of wonder at this extraordinary world, people and achievements it evoked" (David Cannadine Observer)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By matthew.boughton@kcl.ac.uk on 22 July 2000
Format: Paperback
England, 1943. The German Enigma code has been cracked and the Allied forces are close to winning the crucial Battle of the Atlantic. Suddenly, the code is changed and it is obvious that there is a traitor in the midst. Code-cracker Tom Jericho then finds that his girlfriend Claire has gone missing, leaving incriminating evidence in her room and a full-scale search begins to find her. But Tom cannot believe that she was the betrayer and sets out to find his own answers. With support from Claire's curious roommate Hester, he uncovers a mystery that goes far deeper than the Enigma codes. He discovers a secret that both the Gestapo and the British government are strangely united in their efforts to keep, a secret that could be dangerous in the wrong hands and a secret that shames those fighting on both sides.
This book is an absolutely amazing historical detective story. Harris's debut, "Fatherland" was unputdownable and vastly intriguing but this book goes one better. In "Enigma" we are presented with the world as it was nearly 60 years ago, and an England tired by War. Symbolising this fatigue is our hero Jericho, a young man press-ganged into helping to crack the Enigma cose and almost killing himself in the process. After a short rehabilitation he arrives back at the Bletchley code-cracking centre to prove his worth and finding himself embroiled in a mystery in which the enigmatic woman he has fallen for is strangely implicated. Harris creates a flawed hero and an unconventional heroine in the shape of Hester Wallace, who together discover that the disappearance of Claire and the discovery by the Germans that their code has been cracked are linked to a shameful secret hidden in the forests of Eastern Europe.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Mar. 1999
Format: Paperback
As well as being an excellent thriller, this book painted a very vivid picture of what life was like at Bletchley park during the war. The technical detail was interesting, and prompted me to buy other books to find out more about the enigma codes. I don't read many novels, but as soon as I started this one I was hooked. I now plan to read his other novels too.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Andy Brodie on 8 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback
Hollywood appears constantly on the look out for a good story to adapt into the next blockbuster's screen play. All too often, a once and loveable old friend is re-packaged and franchised for the big screen; stripped, nay raped, of all the subtleties and nuances that made the story interesting in the first place.

Don't get me wrong, I love film. At it's best, I love the medium's ability to awe, to inspire, to entertain, and yes even to shock an audience in glorious surround sound and in pictures twenty feet tall. At it's worst, overt commercial considerations often drive a need to 'dumb down', cut short or alter so much that any similarity to the source material is purely coincidental. Good adaptations will often omit subplots, almost certainly cut out or amalgamate characters whilst at least preserving, sometimes even improving, on the substance of the original in the transition from book to screen.

Normally a book is read before it's film adaptation is seen, which is why all to often you hear complaints a film doesn't measure up to it's book. For me and "Enigma", it was the other way around. I missed the original publication back in 1995 and only through picking up a bargain DVD of the film did I finally get to see the cinematic version.

At long last I can now compare the film with it's source material, and can honestly say the film is a fair and accurate representation of the book and a good example of what I consider to be a successful adaption. Harris certainly evokes the sights, smells, tastes and sounds or a war weary Britain in the depth of the winter in 1943, and skilfully explains complicated technical details so even a technophobe can understand the various plot lines. I was gripped from the first page to the last.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Milton VINE VOICE on 19 April 2009
Format: Paperback
Having read Fatherland and been impressed with the depth of characters and research I avidly bought Engima, Harris' second book, anticipating the same level of detailed research, intensity and suspense. However, I was left feeling disappointed.

The book is clearly well researched and gets across the feelings of paranoia present at Bletchley Park in the Second World War. However, the characters are not as deep as in Fatherland. The Plot in the book seems to chug along at the same pace and never seems to have the intensity and suspense that Fatherland had. When the book gets to its peak I felt a little cheated that I had read so much for such a weak ending.

Overall, a clearly well researched book, but lacking in depth or suspense. If you have read Fatherland, do not expect a similar read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Terry D TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Robert Harris has, with enormous skill, seamlessly woven a brilliant thriller around the activities of the code breakers and support personnel at Bletchley Park and their continuing battle to read the German Enigma ciphers.

He focuses on the moment in 1943 when the Germans abruptly changed their codes and Bletchley Park suddenly found they could no longer read any of the German radio messages to and from their North Atlantic U-boat packs. The potential effect on the Allied convoys was more than simply frightening.

When the girlfriend of Tom Jericho, one of Bletchley Park's top code breakers, disappears there's an immediate suspicion that she may be a German agent who, in some way, has alerted the Germans to the fact that their Enigma ciphers are being routinely broken. The logic behind this suspicion and the way it impacts upon the code breakers themselves - who are working impossible hours and under impossible pressure - made it extremely difficult for me to put the book down.

And, as the Allied convoys continue - as they must - to sail, as the U-boat packs gather and Tom Jericho and his colleagues at Bletchley strive to break this latest Enigma cipher, we suddenly find that nothing is quite what it seems.

That final and sudden twist - as the Polish word Katyn unexpectedly appears - is brilliantly told and lifts the thriller into a class of its own.

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The story of Bletchley Park in breaking, from 1939 onwards, the German, Italian and Japanese ciphers has, of course, been well documented.
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