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Enigma by Robert Harris
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Enigma (1995)

by Robert Harris

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2,054323,242 (3.64)52
Recently added bysupercoldd, private library, PaulusK, gaganb, ceg, calum-iain, exlibristim, Mike7m7, KSpeicher, r.krishnan
  1. 20
    Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: A fascinating biography of one of the real code-breakers at Bletchley Park. Alan Turing was the mathematician behind the cracking of the Enigma code during WWII.
  2. 20
    Fatherland by Robert Harris (dbourrion)
  3. 00
    A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines by Janna Levin (PLReader)
  4. 00
    The Interrogator by Andrew Williams (simon_carr)
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» See also 52 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
I'm a big fan of Robert Harris' thrillers, and fascinated by the story of Bletchley Park. As a thriller, it doesn't quite reach the heights of Fatherland, but it's still a terrific page-turner, and there are sufficient twists to keep you guessing without the plot running away with itself. That said, it is fiction, and there were a few times when I thought "that wouldn't have happened" (and Harris repeats the Coventry myth in the closing pages - although as it was written in 1995 before recent scholarship put the myth to bed, that's perhaps excusable). Well-worth reading over a relaxing weekend. ( )
  markbarnes | Jan 18, 2015 |
Some parts about coding may have gone Swooosh! right over my head, but it didn't matter, I caught the gist of it and it didn't lessen my understanding or enjoyment. Turing has always held a fascination for me and although he didn't actually make an appearance in this story, he got many mentions. I especially liked the way the suspense mounted in the second half. Although I suspected some characters of not being what they claimed to be, I was still caught off-guard. Harris painted a perfect portrait of Great Britain as the war progressed and shortages became more difficult. As well as a captivating story, the details were very interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. ( )
1 vote VivienneR | Sep 21, 2014 |
Picked up this novel set in the codebreaking center Bletchley Park during world war II as a follow-up to reading Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. I learnt less than what I had hoped about cryptography. And I do not find historical fiction in which the protagonists contribute major efforts to historical episodes that interesting. ( )
  ohernaes | May 5, 2014 |
This isn't the sort of book I'd normally pick for myself, which is why I joined a book club, I suppose.

This was the first spy book I've read, and possibly the last for a good while. My one star review is a reflection of the fact I don't find espionage the slightest bit interesting, nor have I ever understood what people see in cryptic crosswords and sudoku. Each to their own.

All that aside, I was prepared to like a book about wartime spies, except even as a non-specialist of the genre, I could see from reading other crime fiction and watching popular TV series that this writer, like so many others, has relied too much on stock characters. Robert Harris has said that he purposefully prioritises fast-paced plot over characterisation, and in this he succeeded. I didn't get to know Claire well enough before she disappeared, and was therefore not invested in finding out why she'd buggered off.

I am most fed up with plots which rely on beautiful (blond) women who use their sexuality to manipulate men in power ('Claire'), contrasted with plain, feminist, hard-working lesbian types who always seem to get screwed over (Hester Wallace).

Several things irritated me about the writing style. The character called Logie seemed to say 'old love' after every single thing -- a tic as annoying on the page as it would be in real life.

I got utterly sick of the constant snide jabs at Hester's clothing and appearance, in case the reader hadn't picked up from the initial thumbnail sketch exactly what sort of trope she is. Yet Hester was my favourite character. She saw right through the patriarchal bullshit of wartime: 'Everything interesting is done by men. Women do the rest', yet Jericho's main criticism is that she isn't pretty but could be: 'She could be pretty, he thought, if she put her mind to it.'

Pathetic characterisation aside, I thought the setting was painted adroitly and I almost felt for myself the cold of the night seep into my bones as I read.

Most disappointingly, I didn't identify with Jericho and therefore couldn't care about him either. I actively disliked him, actually, and I think it was from that moment he harassed Hester on her bicycle, refusing to let her go off into the night. Some men who accost women at night, even with good intent, don't seem to realise how terrifying it is for a woman.

I can't comment too much on the plot, except that it failed to hold my attention, but it wasn't lost on me that, once again, we have a story held together by the possibility that a sexually alluring woman has been strangled to death, her blood stained underwear found by the water.

That's what makes an interesting plot, is it? I'm getting mighty sick of that. ( )
  LynleyS | Feb 8, 2014 |
It's 1943 and the vaunted codebreakers at Bletchley Park have run into trouble. The problem with breaking the enemy's codes is that, if you act on information obtained only through the codebreaking, you run the risk of the enemy discovering what you've done and changing the codes. And when the code in question is part of the Enigma system, that makes re-breaking the code even more difficult. In this novel, it is Tom Jericho's task to break the code and help save a North American convoy from destruction. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Claire Romilly, has disappeared, and given the circumstances of the war that is very suspicious indeed...

Overall I liked this book, although perhaps it required more concentration than I was able to give it. The second half was faster-paced and more riveting than the first, which contained more of the romance bits between Tom and Claire. The descriptions of the codebreaking machines were also interesting and make me want to visit Bletchley Park myself. And while Turing is mentioned frequently, he does not play a major role. If you want Turing-related fiction, try the play Breaking the Code. But for enthusiasts of World War 2 history and the world of codes and ciphers, this is a good bet. ( )
1 vote rabbitprincess | Sep 15, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Harrisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rambelli, RobertaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Gill,
and for Holly and Charlie
GXQF VFLR TXLG VLWD PRUA
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Cambridge in the fourth winter of the war: a ghost town.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0804115486, Mass Market Paperback)

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 labor, the mysterious disappearance of a former girlfriend, the suspicions of his co-workers 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 technomystery should be.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:56 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Tom Jericho has been called out of retirement to join in a race to crack the Nazi's secret code, Enigma, in order to save Allied troops from a deadly German attack.

» see all 5 descriptions

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