Secret writing has been altering the course of history for
thousands of years - from ancient Chinese messages written on silk,
wrapped up, covered in wax and swallowed by the courier to today's
quest for the ultimate, unbreakable code. Likening codes to
bacteria and codebreakers to antibiotics, the author of the
acclaimed Fermat's Last Theorem examines what he describes as the
'evolution' of cryptography. This isn't a definitive history,
rather Singh adopts an absorbing magpie approach, using snippets of
history to illustrate his points, interspersed with examples of
cryptanalysis. With information as valuable as ever, and ever
easier to intercept and abuse, he makes a plea for the continuing
importance of codes as a way of protecting our privacy. (Kirkus UK)
Since humans began writing, they have been communicating in code. This obsession with secrecy has had dramatic effects on the outcome of wars, monarchies and individual lives.
With clear mathematical, linguistic and technological demonstrations of many of the codes, as well as illustrations of some of the remarkable personalities behind them – many courageous, some villainous – The Code Book traces the fascinating development of codes and code-breaking from military espionage in Ancient Greece to modern computer ciphers, to reveal how the remarkable science of cryptography has often changed the course of history.
Amongst many extraordinary examples, Simon Singh relates in detail the story of Mary, Queen of Scots, trapped by her own code and put to death by Elizabeth I; the strange history of the Beale Ciphers, describing the hidden location of a fortune in gold, buried somewhere in Virginia in the nineteenth century and still not found; and the monumental efforts in code-making and code-breaking that influenced the outcomes of the First and Second World Wars.
Now, with the Information Age bringing the possibility of a truly unbreakable code ever nearer, and cryptography one of the major debates of our times, Singh investigates the challenge that technology has brought to personal privacy today.
Dramatic, compelling and remarkably far-reaching, The Code Book will forever alter your view of history, what drives it and how private your last e-mail really was.
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Review This Product
Thu, 7 Jul 2005 | Review by: Sandra S
Interesting, fascinating, enlightening. At first, this book seems a little intimidating, but Singh starts off by explaining the more simple ciphers. As the book progresses, new forms of encryption are explained - which leave you baffled how anyone could ever have cracked these codes - closely followed by a fascinating account on how the cracking was done. I have certainly been humbled by the sheer genius of the coders and the code-breakers. I recommend this book to anyone!!!
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