Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson


By Neal Stephenson

  • Release Date: 2009-03-17
  • Genre: High Tech
Score: 4.5
From 374 Ratings


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. As an added bonus, the e-book edition of this New York Times bestseller includes an excerpt from Stephenson's new novel, Seveneves.

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.


  • My (Newest) All-Time Favorite

    By Texas_Big_Al
    I re-read books I like. This may puzzle some folks (who probably re-watch TV shows and movies. When I found "Cryptonomicon" on the new book shelf in my library I grabbed it, read it and was captivated! (I should mention that I spent 30+ years working in the computer industry, so I could identify with some (many) of the leading characters.) I've read "Cryptonomicon” 8-10 time, and I enjoy still enjoy it. I just finished it (again). Try it!!!
  • Lengthy and too boring.

    By Jupp66
    For three or four times I have tried to get into that book and finish it but I've constantly failed. Storytelling is way too lengthy. The technology and cryptography stuff really is not Sophisticated. If you are just a little bit tech savvy, You will be bored to death.
  • Didn't bother finishing

    By DesertSlug
    I have given up on very few books in my 42 years of reading and this was one of them. I have enjoyed previous books by Stephenson, and this book has an interesting premise with a great techno backdrop, but it is sloppily written and the characters are pointless. If I don't care whether the characters live or die, and if I don't believe that they are behaving in a way consistent with their personalities, then why bother finishing the book? I wanted to like it, but never did......
  • Crypto omicron is pure drivel

    By Casino Mama
    I have never wasted so much time on a novel in my 64 years of reading. This isn't close to storytelling of any kind. I can't believe anyone could waste the money needed to publish such drivel!!! To think I even held out hope that this novel would somehow redeem itself......
  • Cryptonomicon

    By Bruce The Juice Davis
    I just finished Cryptonomicon for the 2nd time. This is one of the greatest novels I have ever read. A very fine novelist's finest work.
  • Superb.

    By Hesprus.
    A very well written story, but a little longer than it needed to be. The technologies within are presented with about as good an explanations as one can get, but it will still fry your brain.
  • If you only ever read one epic

    By Q.D.P
    Make it this one. It's masterfully crafted, has multiple deep and interconnected stories, and every one of the myriad characters is memorable. This tome pulls no punches and tells a story spanning nearly an entire century through the eyes of an incredibly diverse cast of characters.
  • Got me into reading

    By Steakfest
    I'm a 30+ functioning illiterate. I can read, but I've never read for pleasure. This book changed that for me. Yes, the book was dense and long, but I couldn't put it down. Looking forward to reading more of his work.
  • Disapointed

    By hofii
    This book came highly recommended. However, I got nearly half way through the book before giving up. The three separate stories were still not connected convincingly, and I still didn't care for any of the three antagonists. This book represents time I will never get back.
  • Great book, pretty good ebook

    By Bobby Newark
    The book itself is great. I couldn't put it down and I find myself more interested in WW2 history after some of the fiction/non-fiction mashups that Stephenson played with in the book. I'm not really a math purist but loved the book. The eBook was a good production. My only complaint was that there was probably something like 20-30 words that had spaces in them. I'm assuming some artifact of moving from fixed width layout where there were line breaks to a dynamic width. It wasn't overly distracting.