on 21 February 2006
I'm not kidding. This book is fantastic. A combination of action packed historical novel fused with technology and business aware funkiness. It's based in two main time periods that proceed in parallel throughout the book: near present day and the second world war. The WW2 thread examines the games of deception played by the Allies, the German's and the Japanese and demonstrates how key code-breaking was to the outcome of the war. In the modern day thread we follow a young entrepreneurial programmer through a web of business deals and along a road of personal discovery.
Stephenson is able to bring to life real historical characters like Alan Turing (famous cryptographer and pretty much inventor of the concept of computers) and General MacArthur and weave them deep into the story line in a totally beleivable way. There is a sharp wit in the writing and he pulls no punches in his depictions of war and life and death.
If you like crypto, tech and history, you'll make this book your new bible. If you don't, you should at least find this book facinating.
I don't find new writers I like very often, but after reading this book I'm going to read everything this guy has ever written.
on 30 August 2008
This novel deserves to be put up on the shelf with the all time greats of literature. One day it will be taught in schools alongside Shakespeare and Moliere. Stephenson manages to create a work of such exquisite plot, pace and erudition that it stands head and shoulders above any genre distinctions, taking its place as a true classic.
on 27 March 2007
I've read most of Stephenson's books and while the Baroque Cycle is wonderful and a must-read, this is still the book I'd rate his best.
I took it on a holiday with friends that turned into a disaster (big fall-outs between families!!!) but I didn't care, cos reading this book was such an absolutel joy it didn't matter that it rained most days or that everyone else was miserable and hating each other, I was happy as a sandboy sitting by myself ploughing through this every spare minute!
It's got a plot as riveting as the best airport thriller but with the scope and intelligence of an epic historical masterpiece. Don't worry if you know nothing about codes and code-breaking, or that you really don't want to know - by the time you've finished this book you'll be an expert on the history of cryptography and enjoyed every fact you've ingested.
I can't recommend it too highly.