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About the Author

Simon Singh was born in Great Britain in 1964 and educated at Imperial College and the University of Cambridge (where he received a Ph. D. in particle physics). He worked at the European Centre for Particle Physics and the BBC's science department. At the BBC, he worked on Tomorrow's World. Singh show more and John Lynch produced and directed an award-winning documentary on Fermat's Last Theory. He later published a book on the same topic. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Credit: Steve Trigg, 2005, Brisbane

Works by Simon Singh

Associated Works

The Atheist's Guide to Christmas (2009) — Contributor — 350 copies


alternative medicine (41) astronomy (116) atheism (52) big bang (42) biography (65) Christmas (38) ciphers (52) code (50) codebreaking (34) codes (165) computer science (34) computers (34) cosmology (157) cryptography (732) ebook (36) encryption (43) espionage (73) Fermat (57) Fermat's Last Theorem (34) goodreads (35) history (821) history of mathematics (53) history of science (124) humor (34) Kindle (32) math (1,433) medicine (40) non-fiction (1,103) number theory (45) own (37) physics (170) popular science (248) read (133) reference (37) religion (36) science (1,140) security (34) technology (40) to-read (740) unread (53)

Common Knowledge



Good enough, but suffers from the typical problems of pop-science-history stuff: obsession with a limited number of personalities, repetition of accepted truths about history, nationalism, focus on "stories", dilution of information about the process of cryptography etc. Still interesting
tombomp | 74 other reviews | Oct 31, 2023 |
On the surface of it, The Code Book is a very unglamorous book - a somewhat analytical book filled with technical jargon on the history of cryptography, starting from its first mentions in written record to the somewhat confusing introduction to quantum computing and quantum cryptography.
But on a deeper glance, Simon Singh reveals himself as a passionate and intense geek who wants to explain how our communication is encrypted and decrypted to laypeople, who might not know what algorithms and modulus functions are but who deserve to know what cryptography is. It is telling that most of the concepts he teaches are through stories - why a particular cypher was invented and how history could have been much different if a few specific messages were still secure. It was heartening to note that even knowing all the basics - there was a lot of stuff to absorb - including the inner workings of Enigma used in WW2, the decryption of Linear B, an extinct Mediterranean language.
The Code Book's ending chapters have dated horribly, though. Simon envisioned a future where the public would need cryptography because they would be emailing forms containing their credit card information to retailers for e-commerce. Amazon took this concept to a hitherto unforeseen level. Moore's Law has stagnated, the debate on cryptography has changed immensely, for better or worse - and quantum computing remains as nascent as ever. Still, the basics of cryptography have remained the same - for that alone; this is a fine read.
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SidKhanooja | 74 other reviews | Sep 1, 2023 |
Very nice job. Some rare photos, too. See also: Coming of Age in the Milky Way. Timothy Ferris.
markm2315 | 30 other reviews | Jul 1, 2023 |
This is just what a popular book explaining a niche topic should be: lucid, fast-paced, and useful. I cracked the encryption in the appendix based on his explanation of how to do it so that was nice.
fji65hj7 | 74 other reviews | May 14, 2023 |



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Associated Authors

Klaus Fritz Translator
Mea Flothuis Translator
Andy Bridge Cover artist
John Lynch Foreword
David Orthel Translator


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