am 21. Mai 2002
In "The Code Book" werden Verschlüsselungsmethoden seit früheren Zeiten bis zum heutigen Tag erklärt. Die Erklärungen sind verständlich geschrieben und erhalten praktische Beispiele aus der Weltgeschichte.
Wenn man einmal damit anfängt ein Kapitel zu lesen, will man einfach nicht mehr aufhören denn die Lösung um das Method zu "knacken" wird oft erst in den letzten Seiten verraten.
Für Informatiker, die mit solche Themen wie Public-Key-Encryption (zB. PGP) zu tun haben, liefert das Buch ein sehr gutes Hintergrund zu den heutigen Technologien.
am 28. Juli 2000
I read the book from cover to cover in one sitting and then eagerly dashed to the website to learn more about the cipher challenge that author Singh poses to those of us who think, gee this seems easy, I could take a crack at it. From Egyptian hieroglyphics to Elizabethan intrigue to modern-day Internet encryption, the book eloquently covers the ways in which humans have used codes and ciphers to conquer and cover up their activities. While I was vaguely aware of the Rosetta Stone and the role of Navajo codetalkers during the War, the book made me realize how complex the field is and how slow the progress has been over centuries to refine and evolve these secretive methods of communication. Singh's style is never stuffy or dry. I will be sure to read Fermat's Last Theorem.
am 5. September 2009
This is a totally gripping book which is extremely readable, easy to understand and a compelling historical account of codes and ciphers right from the times of Eliazbeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, right up to the present day with the internet and emerging technologies.
What I really like about this book is that Singh easily introduces codes and ciphers to you and you can sit and work out their translations yourself. it's the kind of book that makes you want to get pen and paper and make your own code or work out the ones in the book (I did!). You even get multiple pages at the end with codes for you to work out. Very fascinating.
The one downside to the book is that some of it does get a little technical and over my head (probably yours too) so I did a bit of page flipping towards the end (the quantum mechanics section just totally lost me). So you won't understand the entire book but about 98% of it instead (unless you're Einstein in which case you won't have any problems at all).
This is THE definitive book for codes and code breaking. I can't recommend this enough.
am 30. Mai 2000
Desde el comienzo del libro, Simon Singh narra con detalle y fuerza piezas claves de la historia de la codificación, haciendo que un tema tan complejo sea de la más fácil comprensión. Los hechos históricos aparecen descritos con minuciosidad manteniendo un ritmo que hace de cada página sólo un anticipo de otra aún más interesante. Las vidas de los personajes clave son recogidas en forma de pequeñas biografías que hacen que te sumerjas con facilidad en sus emociones, sus dificultades y en la presión que rodeaba su trabajo. Se trata, en general, de una obra divulgativa muy bien escrita y con un contenido apasionante. Seguiremos los pasos del Sr. Singh..
am 3. April 2000
A common error occurs in the book: not ENIGMA(USA 1945) as most people believe, not COLOSSUS(UK 1943) as Singh claims, but Z3(Germany 1941) has been the first programmable computer. If you come to Munich, you can see a rebuilt of this maschine in the "Deutsche Museum".
Some militairs were interested to use it for cryptography as well but it did not come to such an application in WW2.
Some technical data of Z3: 2000 relais, floating point arithmetic (22 Bit), memory: 64 words
Velocity: 3 seconds for multiplication, division or square root
am 4. November 2009
This book is about cryptology (a term that includes both code making or cryptography and code breaking or cryptanalysis). However, the primary focus is not the science of cryptology or its history although both are covered in sufficient detail. It is, rather, on people; the people who made the codes, the people who broke the codes and the people whose lives were affected by the codes. The book proceeds in a chronological manner as it follows the age old war between code makers and code breakers from the distant past to well into the future.
Singh explains the not-so-easy mathematics and technology behind code making and breaking in a vivid and very accessible style. Elusive topics such as the operation of the Enigma, the mathematics of RSA and the principals of quantum cryptology are so well explained that most readers will grasp them with a single reading. It is hard not to be inspired by this book. Many times you will find yourselves grabbing a sheet of papers and attempting to work out the codes yourself. The book provides a set of ciphers to work on your own and a list of further reading for those interested to follow up on Alice, Bob and Eve (hypothetical characters used to explain techniques in cryptology)..
"Uijt jb b gjof cppl" replace each letter by the one that precedes it in the alphabet and you get "This is a fine book". This simple cipher, called the Cesar shift cipher, is one of the earliest known ciphers and is discussed in the first chapter which covers cryptology from ancient Greece until the fourteenth century and narrates the gripping tale of Mary Queen of the Scots. The second chapter covers the evolution of both cryptology and cryptanalysis until the 20th century and narrates, among others, the mysterious tale of Beale's ciphers. The third and fourth chapters cover the evolution of cryptology during the first and second world wars and mainly concentrate on the operation and the cracking of the famous German Enigma machine. The fifth chapter covers the Navajo code talkers used by the US in WW2 as well as the inspiring tales of decipherment of Hieroglyphics mainly by Champollion and of Linear B by, among others, Michael Ventris. Chapters six and seven are about Modern Cryptology. They covers the story behind the ground breaking advancements in cryptography, e.g. public key cryptography, that fueled internet communication and commerce. It also ponders in some detail over the issue of privacy versus security. Chapter eight is about the future of Cryptology and how both code makers and code breakers are starting to make use of Quantum mechanics to take cryptology to a whole new level.
As mentioned earlier, this book is about people and it does a good job in paying tribute many of the usually unsung heroes of cryptology.
All said, this is one of the most gripping, amusing and rewarding general science books; it even has instruction on hiding a message within a hardboiled egg!!
am 2. Juli 2000
A combination of easy-to-understand explanations, history, suspense, and just plain fun made this the best history book I've ever read. Singh starts with Mary Queen of Scots and her fumbled plot to kill Queen Elizabeth. The history behind the plot was explained, and then he back-tracked all the way to the fifth century b.c. to give us an idea of where it all started from in documented history. The author's style of creating suspense surrounding a particular event and then giving you history on that event before he tells you the outcome was an excellent way to keep a non history buff glued to the pages.
The characters were well written within the history. Instead of falling asleep to a list of names and dates, I was saddened to read of the fate of Alan Turing when they discovered his secret, all fired up about the buried treasure surrounding the Beale Papers, and laughing at the quandry of the poor Navajos who were 'captured' by Americans who mistook them for Japanese spies.
The other high quality aspect was the cryptography explanations. Never having known much about cryptography beyond the absolute basics behind Enigma, I found it extremely easy to understand his explanations of how this or that cypher worked, and how historical figures went about cracking them. Even his explanations of how Enigma worked were simple to comprehend. Based on his explanations I'm confident I could create coded messages myself - maybe even decipher one!
It probably has a lot more to do with my ignorance of Egyptology than the authors explanations, but the only portion of the book I didn't like was the explanation of how the hieroglyphs were deciphered. The explanations themselves were clear, but it seemed to me there were some assumptions made about why people in ancient Egypt did certain things that just seemed a bit off to me. The author was clear enough and accurate enough about everything else that I'm assuming the fault is mine, and I'll be reading some Egyptian history sometime soon.
am 25. September 1999
Not really in any substantive sense a history of cryptography, this book gives one very much the same feeling as if watching a well done television documentary. This is not particularly surprising, as the author works on programs such as PBS' "Nova" in his day job. This makes the book an easy and pleasant read, but it chooses its focus rather oddly, often emphasizing persons and events out of all logical proportion to their real historical significance. In fairness, the author does concede that he is not attempting to write a history of cryptography, as that has already been done comprehensively by others, especially David Kahn ("The Codebreakers," recently reprinted). While Americans are given inappropriately little attention until the chapter on public-key cryptography -- I think William F. Friedman is mentioned once in passing, and Herbert O. Yardley perhaps twice -- the selection of subject matter is a refreshing change from the usual stories that are rehashed over and over in most books on cryptography. It is particularly nice to see the British WWII cryptanalytic efforts at Bletchley Park being given their due, since Bletchley's people such as Alan Turing and Tommy Flowers have had to suffer from their work being kept secret until several years after Kahn's and most of the other principal histories had been written. The acknowledgement of the early Polish effort with German Enigma which made the British effort possible is also comparatively rare, again mostly because of the secrecy which until recently surrounded the matter, but it is likewise long overdue. I was also pleased to see the chapter on the decipherment of Cretan Linear B, which the late Otto Neugebauer -- probably then the world's leading expert on Babylonian Cuneiform and no slouch himself -- told me made his work look like "child's play." (Neugebauer's popular "The Exact Sciences in Antiquity" is still in print, too.) It would have been nice to see some discussion about the success with which cryptanalytic techniques similar to those used in connection with Linear B have been applied within just the last few years to Mayan inscriptions, but one cannot have everything. The tie-in between Linear B and Navajo "code talkers," both of which depended upon cultural influences, was a most unusual perspective. Interestingly, there is some hint at the same basic issue in connection with Judaism, where Martin Hellman's experiences with anti-semitism are discussed and it is noted that the critical insight which led to the RSA cryptographic system occurred immediately following a Passover seder where Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adelman were all present together. Ultimately, the approach of the book is, in "human drama" television documentary style, to choose some story or person as respresentative of each aspect of cryptography in history, including some of world-making historical importance such as the execution of Mary Queen of Scots or the breaking of German ciphers in WWII, some of great importance within their field such as the work on Linear B, and some of entirely marginal importance other than as curiositis such as the Beale letters. The technical explanations of cryptographic systems such as the Vignere Cipher are excellent and should be clear to anyone, and are much better done than in the average book on the subject. Where the explanation would be so involved as to be distracting to the reader, the technical issues are relegated to one of the many appendices as is appropriate. Even the discussions of speculative techniques such as quantum-state transmission are relatively easy to follow. Overall, I cannot recommend this book as a serious history of the subject -- read Kahn for that -- but it is a fun and entertaining read for someone knowledgable and a respectable introduction for anyone else fascinated with cryptography and cryptanalysis.
am 21. September 1999
As he did in Fermat's Enigma, Singh succeeds in communicating recondite mathematical concepts to the non-mathematician in The Code Book. But the plot thickens in Singh's second; what if being the first to find, "The Proof," meant having the upper hand in matters of terrorism, or the key to victory in World War? Singh shows that cipher-math has played an important role in historical events, and will continue to play a role in the security of individuals, corporations, and countries.
While I won't be losing sleep trying to win the book's $15,000 Cipher Challenge, (I've got a Pentium II) I will now think hard about how cipher technology is used and regulated. Should the government be allowed to prohibit absolute cipher-security to protect citizens from harm, or does the right to privacy outweigh the risk of computer-aided crime and terror? I'm not the one with the recipe for Coke under his pillow, but if I were, thoughts of cipher legislation would keep me from resting easily.
I really enjoyed The Code Book, but it should have been thicker with the stories for which Singh suggested there wasn't enough room. I hoped for more stories about the race between cryptographers and cryptanalysts, desperate to gain any intelligence advantage, holding the future of the free world in their hands; as a diversion from the objectives of the book, Singh chose only to relate the cracking of Linear-B. (Not quite "The Day of the Jakcal.") Otherwise, however, The Code Book is, "Uif Tiju!"
am 12. Juni 2000
The solution of signals encrypted with the Enigma was one of the outstanding efforts by the Allies during WWII. The contributions of the Polish code breakers to this effortwere of monumental importance as were the efforts made at Bletchley Park. Reading signals from Nazi Uboats, microwave radar and the efforts of brave men led to success in the battle of the North Atlantic. Moreover the concept of designing an electromechanical mechine to recover clear text represents one of the important early steps in the history of the development of the modern computer. This is most clearly seen in the relationship between Colossus and the Lorenz Gehimeschreiber. This book provides an extremely thorough and readily understandable explaination of the operation of Egnima. For this reason alone, I consider it extremely rewarding reading. For those who have not previously explored any of the history of cryptography this book provides a highly readable overview of remote and recent events as they relate to the topic. I found it extremely informative with regard to the function of the plug board on the Enigma. It was quite interesting to learn that this component of the device provided the the greatest number of possible encryption but was the second least secure aspect of its operation. Operator error, of course, being the very least.