Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-breaking (Taschenbuch)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!!