Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Cryptonomicon (original 1999; edition 1999)

by Neal Stephenson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
13,696228153 (4.22)453
Authors:Neal Stephenson
Info:SOLD (1999), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover
Collections:Your library, Read
Tags:Code Breaking

Work details

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (1999)

  1. 202
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (moonstormer)
  2. 132
    Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter (Zaklog)
    Zaklog: Cryptonomicon strikes me as the kind of book that Hofstadter would write if he wrote fiction. Both books are complex, with discursive passages on mathematics and a positively weird sense of humor. If you enjoyed (rather than endured) the explanatory sections on cryptography and the charts of Waterhouse's love life (among other, rarely charted things) you should really like this book.… (more)
  3. 100
    The Codebreakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet by David Kahn (grizzly.anderson)
    grizzly.anderson: A great and fairly easy to read history of much of the history and cryptography the novel is based on.
  4. 100
    Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (S_Meyerson)
  5. 112
    Anathem by Neal Stephenson (BriarE)
  6. 90
    The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh (S_Meyerson)
  7. 61
    Daemon by Daniel Suarez (simon_carr)
  8. 61
    Secrets and lies : digital security in a networked world by Bruce Schneier (bertilak)
  9. 72
    The Alienist by Caleb Carr (igorken)
  10. 40
    The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway (ahstrick)
  11. 1714
    Moby Dick by Herman Melville (lorax)
    lorax: Seriously. A big fat book immersing the reader in a bizarre and alien culture, with well-written infodumps on subjects of interest to the narrator interspersed throughout the story. It's a very Stephenson-esque book.
  12. 30
    PopCo by Scarlett Thomas (daysailor, Widsith)
    daysailor: Same kind of edgy writing, intertwining cryptography history with good story-telling
    Widsith: More cryptography and conspiracy and earnest philosophical asides (though Thomas writes women characters a lot better than Stephenson)
  13. 30
    Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis (tomduck)
  14. 31
    Reamde by Neal Stephenson (Anonymous user)
  15. 31
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: A Novel by David Mitchell (psybre)
  16. 00
    Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II by Stephen Budiansky (Busifer)
    Busifer: Many of the events featuring in Stephenson's Cryptonomicon have actually happened and while Budiansky isn't the most eloquent author his book is an interesting companion read.
  17. 11
    The Martian by Andy Weir (sturlington)
    sturlington: If you like books with a lot of math in them...
  18. 00
    Join by Steve Toutonghi (jbizroe)
  19. 00
    In Code: A Mathematical Journey by Sarah Flannery (bertilak)
  20. 11
    Enigma by Robert Harris (ianturton)
    ianturton: Another fictionalized look at Bletchly Park, shorter and with fewer Americans.

(see all 24 recommendations)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 453 mentions

English (217)  German (3)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  Dutch (1)  Romanian (1)  Hungarian (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All (228)
Showing 1-5 of 217 (next | show all)
Interesting, but also hard to read sometimes. ( )
  mdubois | Mar 28, 2017 |
Epic, fantastic storytelling. Concerns a group of people working during WWII to break Axis codes and some of their descendants in the "present" (the mid-90's when the book was written) building a data haven in the Philippines. Well-written and engaging, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and sometimes heartbreaking. Stephenson really captures the inner monologue of nerds. ( )
  EmScape | Mar 20, 2017 |
I threw in the towel around page 550 something. I just didn't have it in me to make it to the finish line. This guy apparently will _not_ use 2 words when he can use 7. It _is_ well plotted and the author has a keen eye for details and arcane and interesting facts but oh man, is this guy wordy. He is the anti-Hemingway.

I love cryptography, which is why I picked up this book. I also enjoy anything related to WWII. The author uses a fairly standard present time-past time storyline. He does a credible job of weaving together a number of characters and several storylines. He teases with a really interesting set of possibilities as to where his story might go involving Nazi gold, Nipponese gold, the Enigma machine, global communications and data and especially cryptography.

As I said, I got to around page 550 and just ran out of gas. He simply cannot get a grip on the narrative and after awhile, it just gets boring. He never delivers on the implied promise that things will start to pick up get going. Cut this book in half, I mean it; take away about 450 pages and it would be a terrific techno-historical thriller but I found it just too long.
If you are graduate of the Evelyn Wood School of speed reading, you'll probably love it. ( )
  blnq | Dec 27, 2016 |
Gay brits, violent marines, math, and 3 story lines that have no relation to eachother 150 pages into the story. Not going to waste any more of my time. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
This is a book with much promise. Neal Stephenson is a very decent writer; his prose can be both engaging and exciting, without pandering to the reader in the way many techno-thriller authors choose. Unfortunately, this is also a book that seems to have been written in an ecstasy of authorship, without enough time and consideration given to making the book a reader's choice. My copy weighed in at over 1100 pages, which is a very long expanse for Stephenson to ultimately say very little.

Cryptonomicon is essentially several smaller storylines all rolled into one. There are two distinct timeframes, and several major/minor characters all pursuing their own goals, occasionally overlapping along the way. The problem is that all the hopping backwards and forwards simply adds pages, as Stephenson has to constantly remind us who we're reading about, where they are and what they're doing. By which point, we've moved back 50 years and half-way around the world to another thread in the story. If you put the book down for a few days, you'll probably find yourself reading a few chapters just to get your head around what all the various characters are currently up to, before you can continue on to something fresh.

All of which isn't to say the book doesn't have its moments. There's clearly a lot of time, effort and research gone into this book, and this shows, particularly in the historical timeframe and the bits dealing with cryptography. Isoroku Yamamoto's death, for instance, is featured as a nice allusion to the importance of what the main characters are up to. Yet for all its breadth, this novel is a pure geek's heaven, and despite the oodles of space given over to something like Van Eck phreaking, there's little space to give the characters anything more than a lick of paint. Others have commented that the female characters are wooden objects in a male-dominated world: I'd go as far as to say the entire piece is being played out by marionettes.

Whilst I wasn't exactly expecting inner drama from a book like this, and could have suspended my disbelief for a few lack-lustre characters, there's only so much fantasy I can take whilst reading a book gushing with technical detail. I've no doubt many readers would be quite satisfied with the defence of 'artistic license' but I found myself confusedly shaking my head a number of times reading Cryptonomicon, trying to work out quite whether I was supposed to be taking what I was reading seriously. Not satisfied with creating characters and events, Stephenson creates new countries and languages.

After a few hundred pages I was already getting a bit weary of some of the characters, and a number of far-fetched/unbelievable events and entirely fictitious 'facts' had strained my enjoyment of the plot. But persisting for several hundred more pages didn't produce much in the way of a reward. The picture that gradually gets revealed over this meandering epic really isn't equal to the effort that the author (and reader!) put into it.

This book has been described elsewhere as "the ultimate geek novel." You'll either love the book--for the winding journey, the nauseating detail, the multi-page descriptions, possibly even the cardboard-cutout characters--or like me you'll find the whole escapade rather tedious, unbelievable, unnecessarily long, and ultimately disappointing. ( )
1 vote Fips | Oct 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 217 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephenson, Nealprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dufris, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pannofino, GianniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peck, KellanDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
"There is a remarkably close parallel between the problems of the physicist and those of the cryptographer. The system on which a message is enciphered corresponds to the laws of the universe, the intercepted messages to the evidence available, the keys for a day or a message to important constants which have to be determined. The correspondence is very close, but the subject matter of cryptography is very easily dealt with by discrete machinery, physics not so easily." —Alan Turing
This morning [Imelda Marcos] offered the latest in a series of explanations of the billions of dollars that she and her husband, who died in 1989, are believed to have stolen during his presidency.
"It so coincided that Marcos had money," she said. "After the Bretton Woods agreement he started buying gold from Fort Knox. Three thousand tons, then 4,000 tons. I have documents for these: 7,000 tons. Marcos was so smart. He had it all. It's funny; America didn't understand him." —The New York Times, Monday, 4 March, 1996
To S. Town Stephenson,
who flew kites from battleships
First words
Two tires fly. Two wail.
A bamboo grove, all chopped down.
From it, warring sounds.
He is disappointed because he has solved the problem, and has gone back to the baseline state of boredom and low-level irritation that always comes over him when he's not doing something that inherently needs to be done, like picking a lock or breaking a code.
The ineffable talent for finding patterns in chaos cannot do its thing unless he immerses himself in the chaos first.
This conspiracy thing is going to be a real pain in the ass if it means backing down from casual fistfights.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Neal Stephenson enjoys cult status among science fiction fans and techie types thanks to Snow Crash, which so completely redefined conventional notions of the high-tech future that it became a self- fulfilling prophecy. But if his cyberpunk classic was big, Cryptonomicon is huge, gargantuan, massive-- not just in size but in scope and appeal. It's the hip, readable heir to Gravity's Rainbow and the Illuminatus trilogy. And it's only the first of a proposed series--for more information, read our interview with Stephenson.

Cryptonomicon zooms all over the world, careening conspiratorially back and forth between two time periods- -World War II and the present. Our 1940s heroes are the brilliant mathematician Lawrence Waterhouse, cryptanalyst extraordinaire, and gung ho, morphine-addicted marine Bobby Shaftoe. They're part of Detachment 2702, an Allied group trying to break Axis communication codes while simultaneously preventing the enemy from figuring out that their codes have been broken. Their job boils down to layer upon layer of deception. Dr. Alan Turing is also a member of 2702, and he explains the unit's strange workings to Waterhouse. "When we want to sink a convoy, we send out an observation plane first. Of course, to observe is not its real duty--we already know exactly where the convoy is. Its real duty is to be observed. Then, when we come round and sink them, the Germans will not find it suspicious."

All of this secrecy resonates in the present-day story line, in which the grandchildren of the WWII heroes--inimitable programming geek Randy Waterhouse and the lovely and powerful Amy Shaftoe--team up to help create an offshore data haven in Southeast Asia and maybe uncover some gold once destined for Nazi coffers. To top off the paranoiac tone of the book, the mysterious Enoch Root, key member of Detachment 2702 and the Societas Eruditorum, pops up with an unbreakable encryption scheme left over from WWII to befuddle the 1990s protagonists with conspiratorial ties.

Cryptonomicon is vintage Stephenson from start to finish: short on plot, but long on detail and so precise it's exhausting. Every page has a math problem, a quotable in-joke, an amazing idea or a bit of sharp prose. Cryptonomicon is also packed with truly weird characters, funky tech, and crypto--all the crypto you'll ever need, in fact, not to mention all the computer jargon of the moment. A word to the wise: if you read this book in one sitting, you may die of information overload (and starvation). --Therese Littleton, Amazon.com
Haiku summary
Encrypted message
Like an inaccessible
Mountain of gold bars

No descriptions found.

(see all 2 descriptions)

An American computer hacker operating in Southeast Asia attempts to break a World War II cypher to find the location of a missing shipment of gold. The gold was stolen by the Japanese during the war. By the author of The Diamond Age.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
5 avail.
305 wanted
1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.22)
0.5 6
1 55
1.5 9
2 115
2.5 27
3 410
3.5 143
4 1150
4.5 222
5 1669

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 115,187,534 books! | Top bar: Always visible