Robert Harris
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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  5,599 ratings  ·  277 reviews
A gripping World War II mystery novel with a cryptographic twist, Enigma's hero is Tom Jericho, a brilliant British mathematician working as a member of the team struggling to crack the Nazi Enigma code. Jericho's own struggles include nerve-wracking mental labor, the mysterious disappearance of a former girlfriend, the suspicions of his co-workers within the paranoid high...more
Paperback, 332 pages
Published May 1st 1997 by Atlantida (first published September 11th 1995)
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It’s my fault and not Robert Harris’ that I haven’t been able to rate this novel more highly. I bought it a few years ago, on sale at the local bookstore, fresh from having read and enjoyed Imperium. From memory, having seen the movie adaptation a few years previously also influenced my purchase.

The premise is a good one: it’s an espionage story set in Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, which during World War II was the site of the UK’s main decryption establishment. This is where ciphers gener...more
Genia Lukin
The basic idea of this story, like so many of others Harris wrote, is; 'take an interesting historical period, throw in some Noir, mix, add fascinating and beautiful femme fatales to flavour'.

It's a recipe that usually works, but, just like your basic meat-and-potatoes, it's not something you'd serve for a gourmet meal unless you're a really genuinely good chef. Harris is rather more my mother throwing together a nice but not terribly inspiring dinner than the three-star restaurant serving a ste...more
Kay Rollison
For many people, Ian Fleming summed up spy stories when he described his own James Bond books as being ‘bang, bang, bang, kiss, kiss, that sort of stuff’. But as with other genres, there is the crude and the subtle, with the best as good as many conventional novels.

On of the good ones is Enigma, by Robert Harris. Harris is an English writer, who, though not aspiring to write the sort of novel that will win a Booker prize is nevertheless an excellent craftsman who tells a clever and convincing...more
This isn't the sort of book I'd normally pick for myself, which is why I joined a book club, I suppose.

This was the first spy book I've read, and possibly the last for a good while. My one star review is a reflection of the fact I don't find espionage the slightest bit interesting, nor have I ever understood what people see in cryptic crosswords and sudoku. Each to their own.

All that aside, I was prepared to like a book about wartime spies, except even as a non-specialist of the genre, I could...more
Christine Blachford
Plot: Tom Jericho is a brilliant cryptologist, successful in cracking the German’s hardest code Shark. He’s suffering from nervous exhaustion and recuperating in the country but when the code is changed and his girlfriend disappears, he must return to Hut 8 to continue his work, re-crack the code and discover the mystery that surrounds Claire.

Characters: He was an interesting character, but the 1940s is not a period I know very much about, and it’s hard to know what the people were or should hav...more
Will Byrnes
This is a fictionalized view of the British WW II code-breaking enterprise that cracked the German code scheme named Enigma. Set in the out-of-the-way English town of Bletchley. Tom Jericho is a whiz code breaker who was a crucial player in breaking the original Enigma code. But the effort cost him. Just recovering from a breakdown and a broken heart, he is brought back into the code-breaking effort. The Germans are making it tough on the Brits, changing aspects of their coding process to keep o...more
I found Enigma a compelling page turner. I was able to spend large chunks of time reading which is a plus. Harris weaves a very intriguing mystery into the greater struggle of breaking the Enigma machine. Like Jericho and Hester I really want to know what happened to Claire - even if I don't like her much. I'll never understand the appeal and loyalty these bitchy, self-centered characters demand, but that's another story. I really did want to know not only where she disappeared, but why and beca...more
Ah, the satisfaction one gets after reading a good, intelligent espionage thriller. And especially if it's after a reasonable period of time.

British author Robert Harris has long been regarded as one of the exponents of the literary thriller genre, and he succeeds in making an impression upon me through 'Enigma', his second novel.

Tom Jericho is a brilliant mathematician & works as a cryptanalyst at Bletchley Park, the institution that houses codebreakers to counter Nazi Germany's coding mach...more
I'm a sucker for anything that involves solving puzzles, so I was pretty sure I was going to like this book when I picked it up. It's a reasonably fast-paced novel that revolves around codebreaking at Bletchley Park during WWII.

The main character, Tom Jericho, is a cryptanalyst who has had a nervous breakdown due to the strain of codebreaking and the end of his relationship with a woman, Claire, who also works at Bletchley Park. However, Jericho is suddenly called back to work when the Germans c...more
Adam Sprague
When I began this book and after the first chapters I thought for sure I was reading a smaller version of Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. That sure did change in a hurry.

One of the things I enjoyed the most was the layering of storylines. One part is the coverage of WWII crypto and the other the disappearing of Claire. Unfortunatley (at least for me) the book was about 80% about the missing girl. The longer the book went on the less and less the book became about crpyto and the more it became a...more
Enough time has elapsed since original publication (1995) that I believe this mystery thriller of World War II code breaking can be considered a genre classic. The thriller aspects center on Bletchley Park and efforts to break (rebreak actually) the extremely complex German Enigma codes. Worked into the plot are fascinating details on code breaking in general and the Enigmas in particular. Mystery aspects mostly involve the shadowy figure of Claire Romilly. Who she is, what she has done, where s...more
Hannah Ringler
I like spy novels. I like cryptography-related novels, memoirs, and instructional texts. Somehow, I’ve never heard of Robert Harris or his book Enigma, despite the fact that both are pretty well-known and Enigma was actually made into a movie.

Part of that may be because its depiction of Bletchley Park is not, apparently, the most accurate, and generally speaking when I read historical fiction I’m more interested in the history than the fiction part. However, as a work of fiction, it’s an enjoyab...more
Rachael Hewison
This novel was my saviour in some ways. Before this I read a string of chick-lit books, which had gotten progressively worse. I needed a novel which would include a little thought, intelligence and history to challenge my mind and Enigma certainly delivered that.
Harris had simplified down the work of the code-breakers so it wasn't too hard to follow their roles, although even then some of it did go over my head. He had clearly done his research and at times it felt as though I were reading a non...more
Arun Divakar
In school, I was the kid who was potentially terrified of mathematics ! The kind of person who would keep working on long winded algebraic equations which finally run into a wall. It is probably a stroke of luck that I managed to pass them all in both my school and college years. This gave me quite a laugh when I was reading this novel for the principle of code breaking lies completely on mathematics and look at me reading this after all these years !

The setting is WWII in a small town in Engla...more
David Roberts
I am reviewing the world war 2 historical fiction novel Enigma by Robert Harris which is an excellent story which I bought from a car boot sale. This book is based on some true events but part of it is fiction and the characters are fictitious. The story is set in Bletchley Park near the current new town Milton Keynes where during the war they had to crack the enigma code used by the Germans. Britain had a huge amount of goods and cargo transported by ship across the Atlantic from America. Unkno...more
Always avoided these mainstream books, but I saw the film based on the book.

In the film, the Polish character is portrayed as a traitor.

Fact, the Polish mathematicians were the first to break the enigma code, not the British.

I suppose no credit is given to the Poles in the book because Robert Harris is an opportunistic, fame seeking, provincial little Englander who was more concerned about the kitchen sink English drama of the Enigma story rather than addressing its true complexities.

This is wh...more
Harris is awfully slow to build the plot, and his protagonist, the WWII cryptologist Tom Jericho, is too dull to make his inner musings anything more than a chore for the first two thirds of the book, yet there is a superb payoff in the thrilling edge-of-the-seat action of the last third of the book. We are given to understand Tom had a nervous breakdown, brought on either by his incredibly stressful contributions to the war effort, or by being rejected by a a mysterious and beautiful woman, a f...more
What a smart and pleasing page-turner this novel is! What I liked best about is that it felt so very British, in a Foyle's War-type of way. It's damp and tweedy with lots of tea and toast and sadness, which is perfect for a novel about WWII Britain, which must have been one of the worst times and places on earth. It's still a mystery/thriller, of course, but in an intelligential way. I especially liked that it was assumed the reader knew where Bletchley Park was, what the enigma was and how it w...more
Terrific novel, my only gripe being the old lie that Churchill let the Germans bomb Coventry to cover the fact that the British had broken Enigma. I do not believe this to be true.

I first read this novel years ago but it didn't really sink in how really important Bletchley Park was. I have since read several books on this subject, listened to the Bletchley Park podcasts and watched a couple of brilliant documentaries. The more I find out the more fascinating it is.

As a novel I thought it was a g...more
Continuing my love affair with books by Robert Harris, I am not disappointed and quite nostalgic for Old England
"When the world is mad, a mathematician may find in mathematics an incomparable anodyne, for mathematics is, of all the arts and sciences, the most remote."

Numbers has always held my interest ever since I got introduced to them and their fun world. And Mathematics is the core of this book which tells the story of deciphering complex codes of the enemy.

The plot is set in a small town in England during WWII and Robert Harris, in his beautiful words, sketches the background. Our protagonist, Thomas...more
Jul 03, 2014 Gwen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gwen by: June 2014 mystery book club pick
Shelves: book-club
This is more of a thriller than an actual mystery, but it was a great read for mystery book club. I've read this book probably close to a dozen times, but this time, I feel like I finally understood what exactly happened at the end. (Thank you, book discussion! There *is* a method to the madness of talking about what you read!) (view spoiler) I liked how the ending itself was a bit of an enigma--what really happ...more
This book makes me happy. Yeah, OK, significant lack of Alan Turing, but to be fair, that's historically accurate. Plus there was the adorable scene where Jericho asks Turing to be his supervisor and is basically 'I want to do this topic because you're studying it too, and you're so smart and all. *puppy-dog eyes*' And how cool is Hester? Perhaps the name bestows innate qualities of awesomeness. I like her being a bitter feminist, because let's be honest here, she's got a damn good point - she's...more
Till almost the end I thought I'd be giving this book fewer stars, but the ending tied everything together and left me feeling glad I'd read it. Considering the subject, the breaking of the German Enigma codes at Bletchley Park during WWII, confusion was not inappropriate and that is what I felt. There was a lot going on through the book that I did not remotely understand. I thought that maybe I wasn't reading with enough concentration, but I think that my feelings of confusion were probably wha...more
Moray Barclay
As with his other work Robert Harris does not just write a great story, he brings history to life. The backdrop is the English winter of 1942 / 43. The severe weather is exacerbated by useless heaters and made more depressing by severe rationing and awful food. Even the coats are grey. The bleakness is vivid.

I had doubts that the author could create a thriller plot around the code-breaking activities at Bletchley Park without reinventing history, but remarkably he does achieve this, and without...more
Well, as a world war enthusiast among other things, I have read a lot about Enigma and its working. It is safe to say that had it not been for Enigma, Germans would have lost the war a great deal earlier and ironically it was due to Enigma that they lost the war, as they thought that its codes were unbreakable.

Robert Harris has definitely done his research well in the fields regarding Enigma and code breaking done at Bletchley Park during World War II, but I had a feeling that it just served as...more
A review of "Enigma" by Robert Harris

Enigma is one of the icons of World War II. It is told countless times in as many connections how the British cracked the seemingly uncrackable German cipher machine, and utilized the decrypts in all secrecy to win the war.

Of course, such a situation provides ample opportunities for suspense writers. I've read about ten books on the Enigma, its precursors, and successors, but I have to say Harris delivers such a wonderful novel on the singular starting point,...more
Thomas Jericho is a cryptanalyst by trade working with British Intelligence during WWII. Jericho is also very well known as he is the one who cracked the Nazi's unbreakable Shark variant (U-Boat communications) of the Enigma naval code. However, the Nazi's have learned that the Brits have cracked their code and have made a few changes to their system. Now, it is up to Jericho to not only rebreak the unbreakable, but try to discover how the Nazi's found them out. While the suspense in the novel i...more
Alex Pawinski
Enigma represents all that is exceptional in the world of reading. Robert Harris quite brilliantly encapsulates the adventure, emotion, historical detail and heart felt suspense that defines his very style. Enigma explores one of the most decisive moments in World History that of the U-Boat peril in which threatens to knock Britain out of the war and in which led to Winston Churchill describing it as the only thing he truly feared. The world of intrigue regarding the mysterious code breakers at...more
Nachdem ich von "Pompeji", "Vaterland" und auch "Der Ghost" so begeistert war, wollte ich auch mal die älteren Thriller von Robert Harris lesen. Anfangs war ich noch etwas skeptisch, weil ich mit Funken und Funksprüchen eigentlich nichts am Hut habe und mich das auch nicht so wirklich interessiert, aber bald war das Buch so spannend, dass ich es wirklich nicht mehr weglegen konnte.

Es geht um den englischen Mathematiker Tom Jericho, der schon einmal den Code der "Enigma-Maschinen" der Nazis gekna...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Robert Dennis Harris (born 7 March 1957 in Nottingham) is a best-selling English novelist. He is a former journalist and BBC TV reporter. He specialises in historical thrillers noted for their literary accomplishment. His books have been translated into some thirty languages...more
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“By dawn he had surrendered, gratefully, to the old inertia, the product of always seeing both sides of every question.” 10 likes
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