Synopses & Reviews
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.
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.
"Big, complex, and ambitious....This fast-paced, genre-transcending novel is full of absorbing action, witty dialogue and well-drawn characters." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Detail-packed, uninhibitedly discursive, with dollops of heavy-handed humor....[H]uge chunks of baldly technical material might fascinate NSA chiefs, computer nerds, and budding entrepreneurs, but ordinary readers are likely to balk..." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] heck of an action/adventure story....Stephenson...lives up to his reputation as a steely-eyed word hacker....[A] hell of a read." Wired
"Stephenson follows his startlingly original Snow Crash...with proof that he can do as well at twice the page-count....Imagine Tom Clancy turning to cyberpunk, and you have some idea of its broad potential appeal." Roland Green, Booklist
"An engrossing look at the way the flow of information shapes history. (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly
About the Author
Neal Stephenson issueth from a Clan of yeomen, itinerant Parsons, ingenieurs,
and Natural Philosophers that hath long dwelt in bucolick marches and rural Shires of his native Land, and trod the Corridors of her 'Varsities. At a young age, finding himself in a pretty Humour for the writing of Romances, and discourse of Natural Philosophy and Technologick Arts, he took up the Pen, and hath not since laid it down.
Other books by Neal Stephenson:
In the Beginning . . . Was the Command Line
The Diamond Age