The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography

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Anchor Books, 2000 - History - 411 pages
In his first book since the bestselling Fermat's Enigma, Simon Singh offers the first sweeping history of encryption, tracing its evolution and revealing the dramatic effects codes have had on wars, nations, and individual lives. From Mary, Queen of Scots, trapped by her own code, to the Navajo Code Talkers who helped the Allies win World War II, to the incredible (and incredibly simple) logisitical breakthrough that made Internet commerce secure, The Code Book tells the story of the most powerful intellectual weapon ever known: secrecy.

Throughout the text are clear technical and mathematical explanations, and portraits of the remarkable personalities who wrote and broke the world's most difficult codes. Accessible, compelling, and remarkably far-reaching, this book will forever alter your view of history and what drives it. It will also make yo wonder how private that e-mail you just sent really is.

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User Review  - pizzadj2 - LibraryThing

I tried to read Alan Turing: The Enigma by Hodges and it seemed to be much more of a biography than explaining the ww2 Enigma. This book was much quicker to read and left out details like the name of ... Read full review

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"The Code Book" is a fascinating explanation of both the history of cryptography and crytpography itself. Singh covers everything from simple monoalphabetic ciphers to quantum encryption, even including a Cipher Challenge with 10 codes to be broken by the reader (most of them far from trivial, difficult enough that the first team to complete the challenge won $15,000 from Singh). Interesting parts of the book include detailed descriptions of encryption and decryption methods used in World War II, as well as an overview of the technical and political aspects of RSA, the current (and currently unbreakable) encryption that ensures security on the internet. 

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The Cipher of Mary Queen of Scots
Le Chiffre Indechiffrable
The Mechanization of Secrecy

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About the author (2000)

Simon Singh received his Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge University. A former BBC producer, he directed and co-produced an award-winning documentary film on Fermat's Last Theorem that aired on PBS's Nova series and formed the basis of his bestselling book, Fermat's Enigma. He lives in London.

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