Synopses & Reviews
Alan Turing helped break the Nazis' Enigma code and became a champion of artificial intelligence. An openly gay man, he was sentenced to chemical castration and committed suicide. Leavitt portrays Turing in all his humanity--his eccentricities, his brilliance, his fatal candor.
"Hounded by authorities and peers alike, British mathematician Alan Turing committed suicide in 1954 by biting into a cyanide-laced apple. A groundbreaking thinker in the field of pure math, a man principally responsible for breaking the Enigma code used by the Germans during WWII and the originator of the ideas that led to the invention of the computer, Turing was also an avowed homosexual at a time when such behavior flew in the face of both convention and the law. Leavitt (The Body of Jonah Boyd) writes that the unfailingly logical Turing was so literal minded, he 'neither glorified nor anthologized' his homosexuality. Educated at King's College, Cambridge, and Princeton, Turing produced the landmark paper 'On Computable Numbers' in 1937, where he proposed the radical idea that machines would and could 'think' for themselves. Despite his Enigma code breaking prowess during the war, which gave the Allies a crucial advantage, Turing was arrested in 1952 and charged with committing acts of gross indecency with another man. With lyrical prose and great compassion, Leavitt has produced a simple book about a complex man involved in an almost unfathomable task that is accessible to any reader. Illus." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The story of the persecuted genius who helped create the modern computer.
To solve one of the great mathematical problems of his day, Alan Turing proposed an imaginary programmable calculating machine. But the idea of actually producing a Turing machine did not crystallize until he and his brilliant Bletchley Park colleagues built devices to crack the Nazis' Enigma code, thus ensuring the Allies' victory in World War II. In so doing, Turing became a champion of artificial intelligence, formulating the famous (and still unbeaten) Turing Test that challenges our ideas of human consciousness. But Turing's postwar computer-building was cut short when, as an openly gay man in a time when homosexuality was officially illegal in England, he was apprehended by the authorities and sentenced to a treatment that amounted to chemical castration, leading to his suicide.
With a novelist's sensitivity, David Leavitt portrays Turing in all his humanity--his eccentricities, his brilliance, his fatal candor--while elegantly explaining his work and its implications.