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# The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography

by

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 ...more## Get A Copy

Hardcover, 415 pages

Published
1999
by Fourth Estate

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Start your review of The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography

Oct 12, 2016
Paul E. Morph
rated it
it was amazing
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review of another edition

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Jun 06, 2008
Jim
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
Geeks and people who like geeks.

Shelves:
pop-sci-geek

The Code Book is like geek porn. Explanations of the theories behind cryptography are woven together with anecdotes of times when code-making or code-breaking was integral to historical events. Singh strikes an excellent balance with this book. The clarity of his writing makes the explanations of the mathematics of cryptography very straightforward without dumbing them down, and the historical connections are always fascinating.

Personally, my favorite part was the section devoted to ...more

Personally, my favorite part was the section devoted to ...more

Or rather, I should say, we’re still living in the same world already transformed by pretty good encryption. The methods for breaking the security still falls in the same category as usual: interception. Of course, the means of interception has gotten amazingly good and creative as hell, but that isn’t the primary scope of this book.

Rather, it’s about an awesom ...more

I had high expectations and it met them nicely. The book tells the story of ciphers and encryption through history – from what the Greek and the Romans did, through the Enigma, and finally to RSA. The style is very easy and pleasant to read, everything is pretty understandable even i ...more

Singh introduces us to famous historical ciphers a ...more

Maybe this is what growing up is about!

That being said, this is a very informative book about the past, present and future of cryptography. Singh takes us on a journey from ancient times ...more

If you at all feel uncomfortable in your knowledge of one time pad cyphers, public/private keys, or the importance of really good cryptography for average folks, please read this book! It's sadly a bit out of date, but Singh does such a brilliant job of methodically building up the complexity in cyphers though history, that you will inevitably learn a ton.

I really enjoyed The Code Book. The explanations were well-done, and the history lessons amazed me, which is odd because I'm not a history fan. I learned a lot about codes and ciphers and how they work, and that was the best part of it all. I liked the writing, so I think I might pick up another Simon Singh book in the future.

Dec 02, 2008
Eric_W
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
spies,
current-affairs

Singh, author of Fermat's Enigma, has even included a code to practice one's deciphering skills on. The successful cryptanalyst will win $15,000. In the appendix, he discusses other famous attempts at breaking codes, including the recent book, The Bible Code, by Michael Drosnin. This work caused quite a stir a couple of years ago when Drosnin, building really on the work of several Hebrew scholars, claimed to have discovered several prophecies hidden in the text of the Bible, a forecast of the assassination
...more

Aug 21, 2013
Krycek
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
non-fiction-science,
non-fiction-history

I was fascinated with codes and ciphers when I was a kid. I even had a "junior spy code kit" with a bunch of cool stuff and I could send little notes to friends with secret messages like "Mr. Nutzenjammer is a dork" and "Cindy eats her boogers" and we would all congratulate ourselves with our cleverness. That's all pretty juvenile, but the ciphers included in my little spy kit were the basics in modern encryption systems and you can read all about it in Simon Singh's

*The Code Book*, an excellent prime ...moreSingh delves into the story of Mary Queen of Scots and explains in an epic and intersting way about how Mary's life depended upon whether her encrypted messages were deciphered. It goes on to the key role of mathematicians in WWII par ...more

Enjoyably crafted and with the lay reader in mind, I think many could enjoy this ...more

Singh may be the best science writer out there. He has that rare ability to take complex science and math topics and explain in very straightforward layman’s terms.

This book details the wor ...more

Sep 20, 2016
Abhishek Desikan
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
favorites

If you're looking for an excellent primer to the world of cryptography and cryptanalysis, then The Code Book, is the one you must lay your hands on.

The book can be looked at in three perspectives. At a micro level, it is a guide to the various techniques of secret writing, and how they can be deciphered. Right from Caesar's cipher to quantum cryptography, the book traces how encryption and decryption has evolved in the last two millennia, which, by itself is fascinating.

Second, it can be looke ...more

The book can be looked at in three perspectives. At a micro level, it is a guide to the various techniques of secret writing, and how they can be deciphered. Right from Caesar's cipher to quantum cryptography, the book traces how encryption and decryption has evolved in the last two millennia, which, by itself is fascinating.

Second, it can be looke ...more

“[ ] One-way functions are sometimes called Humpty Dumpty functions. Modular arithmetic, sometimes called clock arithmetic in schools, is an area of mathematics that is rich in one-way functions. In modular arithmetic, mathematicians consider a finite group of numbers arranged in a loop [ ].”

The two greatest hazards of the internet are pornography and security ...more

My favorite part in the book was the explanation of Quantum Cryptograph ...more

The best part about this book is its accessibility. You don't need to be a mathematician to follow how codes were developed and broken. I was riveted by the development ...more

Singh takes care to also give more technical explanations for what's going on, and you can use the charts to try out some of them for yourself.

Just recently, there's the story of the "runic code" that was finally solved - and it turns out it was used mostly for fun (with one of the translated messages sayin ...more

topics | posts | views | last activity | |
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Interesting book | 3 | 40 | Jan 25, 2015 06:08AM | |

an eye-opener... | 3 | 65 | Sep 06, 2011 08:25PM |

## Goodreads is hiring!

Simon Lehna Singh, MBE is a British author who has specialised in writing about mathematical and scientific topics in an accessible manner. He is the maiden winner of the Lilavati Award.

His written works include

His written works include

*Fermat's Last Theorem*(in the United States titled*Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem*),*The Code Book*(about cryptography and its history),*Big Bang*(ab ...moreNo trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“if N is large enough, it is virtually impossible to deduce p and q from N, and this is perhaps the most beautiful and elegant aspect of the RSA asymmetric cipher.”
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“Ron Rivest, one of the inventors of RSA, thinks that restricting cryptography would be foolhardy: It is poor policy to clamp down indiscriminately on a technology just because some criminals might be able to use it to their advantage. For example, any U.S. citizen can freely buy a pair of gloves, even though a burglar might use them to ransack a house without leaving fingerprints. Cryptography is a data-protection technology, just as gloves are a hand-protection technology. Cryptography protects data from hackers, corporate spies, and con artists, whereas gloves protect hands from cuts, scrapes, heat, cold, and infection. The former can frustrate FBI wiretapping, and the latter can thwart FBI fingerprint analysis. Cryptography and gloves are both dirt-cheap and widely available. In fact, you can download good cryptographic software from the Internet for less than the price of a good pair of gloves.”
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