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The Code Book:

The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography

Paperback (432 pages), kindle
The most powerful intellectual weapon ever known remains SECRECY. Learn the history of encryption and the evolution and dramatic effects codes have had on wars, nations, and individual lives from ancient times to the Navajo Code Talkers who helped the Allies win World War II, to the incredibly simple breakthrough that made Internet commerce secure.

The Code Book:

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.People love secrets. Ever since the first word was written, humans have sent coded messages to each other. In The Code Book, Simon Singh, author of the bestselling Fermat's Enigma, offers a peek into the world of cryptography and codes, from ancient texts through computer encryption. Singh's compelling history is woven through with stories of how codes and ciphers have played a vital role in warfare, politics, and royal intrigue. The major theme of The Code Book is what Singh calls "the ongoing evolutionary battle between codemakers and codebreakers," never more clear than in the chapters devoted to World War II. Cryptography came of age during that conflict, as secret communications became critical to both sides' success.

Confronted with the prospect of defeat, the Allied cryptanalysts had worked night and day to penetrate German ciphers. It would appear that fear was the main driving force, and that adversity is one of the foundations of successful codebreaking.

In the information age, the fear that drives cryptographic improvements is both capitalistic and libertarian--corporations need encryption to ensure that their secrets don't fall into the hands of competitors and regulators, and ordinary people need encryption to keep their everyday communications private in a free society. Similarly, the battles for greater decryption power come from said competitors and governments wary of insurrection.

The Code Book is an excellent primer for those wishing to understand how the human need for privacy has manifested itself through cryptography. Singh's accessible style and clear explanations of complex algorithms cut through the arcane mathematical details without oversimplifying. --Therese Littleton

Cryptology in WWII...

Related Scanning WWII dates...

  • 14 Mar 40: First "Bombe" decipher machine becomes operational
  • 22 May 40: Bletchley Park cryptologists break Luftwaffe Enigma code
  • 25 Sep 40: US discovers key to Japanese coding mechanism
  • 09 May 41: British capture Enigma machine and code book intact
  • 19 Jul 41: Churchill shares Enigma findings with Soviets
  • 19 May 42: US decodes Japanese messages regarding mysterious "AF"
  • 30 Jun 42: British completely crack the Enigma code
  • 13 Apr 43: Decrypted Japanese code leads to plot to kill Admiral Yamamoto
  • 07 Aug 44: IBM dedicates first program-controlled calculator

Navajo Code Talkers...

Related Scanning WWII links...

  • 04 May 42: Original 29 Navajo recruits leave Ft Defiance for San Diego
  • 27 Jun 42: Original 29 Navajo recruits begin eight weeks of communications training

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