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Enigma by Robert Harris
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Enigma (1995)

by Robert Harris

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,955None3,461 (3.62)39
Recently added byG00ders, TonyMilner, private library, robertawilder, shagger, Voss, dwieringa, jjffrr, auldtwa1
20th century (13) Bletchley Park (20) codebreaking (17) codes (12) crime (8) crime fiction (9) cryptography (67) England (31) Enigma (20) espionage (46) fiction (283) general fiction (7) Germany (9) Great Britain (9) hardcover (10) historical (34) historical fiction (78) history (29) mystery (33) novel (38) read (28) Robert Harris (11) Roman (8) spy (20) suspense (18) thriller (110) to-read (13) unread (10) war (41) WWII (183)
  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 39 mentions

English (26)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (28)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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 |
This is my kind of comfort reading: smart characters, historical veracity that doesn't hit you over the head, and excellent pacing. I love this book beyond all reason. ( )
  cricketbats | Apr 18, 2013 |

It’s my fault and not Robert Harris’ that I haven’t been able to rate this novel more highly. I bought it a few years ago, on sale at the local bookstore, fresh from having read and enjoyed [b:Imperium|243601|Imperium (Cicero, #1)|Robert Harris|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1173066789s/243601.jpg|1237325]. From memory, having seen the movie adaptation a few years previously also influenced my purchase.

The premise is a good one: it’s an espionage story set in Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, which during World War II was the site of the UK’s main decryption establishment. This is where ciphers generated by the German Enigma machine were decrypted. There’s a fair bit of information about code breaking in the narrative. Unfortunately, I overestimated my ability to understand the process. Harris’ presumably simplified version of how it all worked went straight over my head, as did my husband’s even more simplified version. Mathematics and my brain are not a good combination, so what is arguably the most interesting aspect of the novel completely escaped me.

What was left was a moderately interesting story with characters I didn’t really care about. Towards the end I was skimming and just wanted it to be over so that I could move on to something more engaging. I feel a bit bad about this, because there’s nothing wrong with Harris’ writing. In fact, his writing is pretty good and I’d be more than happy to read some more of his work. This was just the wrong novel for me. That said, I’m now interested in visiting the museum at Bletchley Park at some point. Maybe if I see an Enigma machine I'll actually understand what encryption and code breaking during WWII was all about.
( )
  KimMR | Apr 2, 2013 |
Well, as a world war enthusiast among other things, I have read a lot about Enigma and its working. It is safe to say that had it not been for Enigma, Germans would have lost the war a great deal earlier and ironically it was due to Enigma that they lost the war, as they thought that its codes were unbreakable.

Robert Harris has definitely done his research well in the fields regarding Enigma and code breaking done at Bletchley Park during World War II, but I had a feeling that it just served as a backdrop for what could be essentially considered as a love story.

The book lacked excitement, which given the backdrop, should not have been the case.

So, if you have watched the 2001 movie of the same name starring Dougray Scott and Kate Winslet, then you are loosing nothing by giving this book a pass.

If you want an alternative, you might want to check out another book called [b:The Enigma|1887173|The Enigma|Michael Barak|http://www.goodreads.com/assets/nocover/60x80.png|6541708] by [a:Michael Barak|1127653|Michael Barak|http://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66.jpg]. It revolves around stealing Enigma from German hands and while it has some cardboard characters, I found it more memorable than this book. ( )
  Veeralpadhiar | Mar 31, 2013 |
Brilliant. Although I must say I was rather disappointed to find fewer references to Turing than expected. ( )
  salvadesswaran | Mar 29, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:42 -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 6 descriptions

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