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4.24  ·  Rating details ·  106,646 ratings  ·  5,707 reviews
Cryptonomicon zooms all over the world, careening conspiratorially back and forth between two time periods—World War II and the present. Our 1940s heroes are the brilliant mathematician Lawrence Waterhouse, crypt analyst extraordinaire, and gung-ho, morphine-addicted marine Bobby Shaftoe. They're part of Detachment 2702, an Allied group trying to break Axis communication c ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 1152 pages
Published November 5th 2002 by Avon (first published May 1999)
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Neal I don't recommend starting with Cryptonomicon. Snow Crash or The Diamond Age are natural places to start. Cryptonimcon is crazy dense and full of nerd…moreI don't recommend starting with Cryptonomicon. Snow Crash or The Diamond Age are natural places to start. Cryptonimcon is crazy dense and full of nerdisms and references to science that some people might not get.(less)
Tony Poerio Also listened to the Audible Audiobook. Thumbs up. The voice actor gives the different characters different voices, etc. So I found it relatively easy…moreAlso listened to the Audible Audiobook. Thumbs up. The voice actor gives the different characters different voices, etc. So I found it relatively easy to the follow. The technical stuff is challenging, but not ultimately necessary to understanding the actual plot. (less)

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Average rating 4.24  · 
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 ·  106,646 ratings  ·  5,707 reviews

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Disclaimer: Had Mr. Stephenson been more skillful in his prose/characterization/writing in general, I would not have paid nearly as much attention to the following issues. I read a lot of old dead white guy type literature, and am pretty forgiving so long as it's good. If it isn't, well, this happens. That is all.

Do not be fooled by the static nature of the star count above. If I had my way, it would be a roiling maelstrom of a typhoon crashing into lava, erosion and explosion steaming and spill
Will Byrnes
Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Pretenses are shabby things that, like papier-mache houses, must be energetically maintained or they will dissolve.
Neal Stephenson has written an overlong novel focusing on the significance of cryptography both in the world today and the time of World War II. He links the two by using multiple family generations. The predecessors inhabit the early cryptographical universe of Turing and others, dealing with cracking German and Japanese cyphers. The latter family representatives are trying to
Sep 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, is to techno-intellectuals as Bryant-Denny Stadium is to redneck college football fans: it is a monument.

According to Stephenson in this very enjoyable, but lengthy book nerds won the Second World War and are keeping global society free from tyranny nowadays.

Weighing in at 1168 pages, this behemoth saddles up to the literary buffet line alongside Atlas Shrugged and War and Peace. How does a book this big get published and how does an author achieve that goal m
One of the problems when reviewing Cryptonomicon is that you could easily end up writing a short novel just trying to summarize it. Here’s my attempt to boil the story down to its essence.

During World War II, Lawrence Waterhouse is a genius mathematician who is part of the effort to break Japanese and German codes, and his job is to keep them from realizing how successful the Allies have been by faking events that give the enemies reasons other than compromised codes to pin any losses on. Marine
Megan Baxter
Jun 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Reading this book was a lot like riding in a car that steadily picks up speed and then stalls out. I wanted to like it a great deal more than I ended up doing.

I would be trucking along, really getting into it, starting to get eager about turning the page and finding out what was going to happen next, and then...some reference to "hairy-legged academic feminists" or the "Ejaculation Control Commission" or "those things women always say to manipulate men" and my enjoyment would come to a screechi
Mar 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, fiction
My friend Stuart's reading this and I stupidly started spoiling one of the best lines in the book (it pops up as Shaftoe's motto) and he was mildly irritated with me. Fortunately for him, he is vastly smarter than me so while he was quite generously acting annoyed he was probably thinking to himself, "Maybe one day I will spoil math and engineering and the details of Riemann zeta functions for Conrad." Now I'm rereading it out of sympathy and it's even better than I remembered.

Anyway, while I ha
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
2015 reread: In World War II, Bobby Shaftoe is a Marine, and Lawrence Waterhouse is a cryptographer. In the present, Randy Waterhouse is part of a tech start-up in the Phillipines. How are the two threads linked, other than by the mysterious Enoch Root?

Okay, so this kitten squisher is a lot more complicated that but after 1200+ reviews, it's hard to come up with teasers some days.

As noted above, this was not my first time reading Cryptonomicon. I first read it when it was published, way back in
I am FINIIIIIISHED! I thought it didn't have an ending! I thought Neal Stephenson kept sneaking to my house and inserting more pages in the back while I was asleep! I thought he would never be appeased until I begged him to stop with a deck of cards, morse code and a wide variety of pleading looks!

This is a massive boy book. A MASSIVE boy book. It's got overwhelmingly male characters, and they do really boy things, like coding, and shooting things, and drawing logarithmic graphs about the last t
B Schrodinger

A >1000 page tech info-dump comfort read. Yes, comfort read,

I think this is my fourth read of this wonderful novel and it just keeps on giving. I'm still picking up new subtleties, offhand comments that I missed, imagery that was lost on me on the last time through. There is a reason why this is one of my favourite novels and why Stephenson is my favourite author.

Cryptonomicon is the story of money, value and information. Lawrence Waterhouse, a math genius, works alongside Alan Tu
Feb 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
I'm shocked by the critical acclaim this book received in the sci-fi category but I suppose even a turd can float. Two stars is really pushing it. Maybe a star for the number of laughs I got per 100 pages. This is the work of a technically inept egomaniac. He does have some technical background (he drops Unix hints and anagrams the name of a supposed deity who dies and then later comes back w/ no explanation??) However, it's not enough “savoir faire” for any of the content to make sense. It migh ...more
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Over and over again we see the pattern of the Titanomachia repeated—the old gods are thrown down, chaos returns, but out of the chaos, the same patterns reemerge.”
- Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon


I didn't like it as much as Anathem or Snow Crash, but like those two Stephenson novels Cryptonomicon has a large cult following, and was on the bleeding edge of a lot of ideas only starting to bubble up in 1999.

Stephenson's prose can go from poetic to obnoxious pretty fast and the tone of this novel
Erez Schatz
Jun 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no-one in particular
Greenspun's Tenth Rule of Programming says, that any sufficiently complicated C or Fortran program contains an ad hoc informally-specified bug-ridden slow implementation of half of Common Lisp. (Including Common Lisp, added Robert Morris)
Lisp, to qoute L. Peter Deutsch, can make you realise that software could be close to executable mathematics.

Cryptonomicon is surprisingly similar to the previous paragraph, both as an analogy to the book, and for the useless use of computer-based qoute, just fo
Майя Ставитская
Neil Stevenson, at the time of writing this novel, is a visionary who predicted end-to-end encryption, in which payment for housing and communal services from anywhere in the world is our routine. In 1999 - a year before the millennium, twelve years before the big date, twenty-three before "here and now". And it turned out to be much closer to reality than the Chiropractor's pizza car from Avalanche or the nanotechnology of the Diamond Age.

Every creator has one decade in which he creates the bes

Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and beca
Clif Hostetler
May 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Aspire for fluency in geek speak? Is "Big Bang Theory" your idea of reality TV? Then I recommend this Moby Dick of nerd novels. Jay Clayton in his book Charles Dickens in Cyberspace calls this book the “ultimate geek novel” (pg. 204-211) and draws attention to the “literary-scientific-engineering-military-industrial-intelligence alliance” that produced discoveries in two eras separated by fifty years, World War II and the Internet age. That's a good concise summary of the book.

Stephenson wr
Oct 16, 2007 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris McLane
Sep 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
One day I went out shopping for a book. My list of unread, prepurchased titles sat neatly in a stack by my disused fire-place and none of them set me alive with anticipation. I don't know what I wanted really, but I had a vague idea that there was a black book with numbers on the front that was a New York Times bestseller, and I quite fancied something clever related to code breaking or numbers. So I hopped on the subway, rode into Union Square and strolled over to B&N on 17th street and found w ...more
J.G. Keely
Neal Stephenson likes to throw weird shit together and see if it sticks. The more recent his book, the more likely it is to resemble a schizophrenic's curio cabinet. Your average Phillip Pullman will add a little wacky trepanning to his fantasy trilogy for that refined edge of esoteria.

Meanwhile, Stephenson will have an exiled member of Italian royalty who works in 'demolition real estate' and knows Escrima thanks to an intense trepanning session with Horace Walpole, Duke Orford. Which I believ
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
This is my third Neal Stephenson book. You could say I'm a fan of his work. You would be correct in such a statement. But, this is not for everybody. His writing style is dense and there is a great deal of information being presented to you. More so than the intricate nature of the information is the fact that, sometimes, the author will take you down a bizarre side track that will actually make you sit there and think about what you just read. If this doesn't seem like something you'd enjoy-the ...more
Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: geeks, history buffs, and literary enthusiasts
I'm an English major. I've read a lot of books. This one, is -- hands down -- my favorite modern fiction novel. I've read it twice, recommended it to others, and I'm sure I'll read it again. There is so much to appreciate here.

It is a semi-historical adventure, so there's something for fiction and non-fiction fans.

The writing is justly verbose at times, and conversationally abrupt at other times. In essence, you find yourself wholly in the minds and bodies of the characters while reading every s
Oct 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
*Re-reading this book, started early January 2009

Note: This review is from my blog, circa 2005.

I finished reading Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson about a week ago. It took me over a month to finish, not because it wasn't great and exciting, but because it was 937 fucking pages long!

I have to say that Neal Stephenson is one of the most interesting and unique authors I have come across in some time now. The book had three main characters/story lines, and each of them had it's own strongly indepe
Kara Babcock
Look, this isn’t really a novel.

Huh. Is there an echo in here?

I was thinking it had been several years since I last read a Neal Stephenson novel, but it turns out to be just under a year. I borrowed Cryptonomicon from a friend’s mother, because it’s truly not on that I’m a mathematician by training yet haven’t read the most mathematical Stephenson work. I put off reading it for a few weeks, because I knew that it would take a while. This past week was probably not the best week to read it—then a
Aug 27, 2013 rated it liked it
This book took me over a month to read, with a couple of short books sandwiched in between. It is not a good sign for me when I need to take two breaks to finish a book. However, this is not a book that I can dismiss regardless of whether I like it. I have several friends who love Cryptonomicon to bits and they are smart, discerning readers. I remember when I finished reading Twilight I was kind of glad that I didn't think it was very good. Had I found it to be an amazing classic I would have no ...more
Oct 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Neal Stephenson performed his usual wizardry in "Cryptonomicon", a very long book that is a sequel to "The Baroque Cycle", which was in fact written later. ("Cryptonomicon" was published in 1999, where the three volumes of "The Baroque Cycle" came out in 2003 and 2004).

"Cryptonomicon" is ostensibly a historical novel. But the genre is really magical realism, although the elements of magic are subtly interwoven into the usually realistic plot. Stephenson creates his special and unique stew of mu
Leo Robertson
DNF @ pg 300.

What a relief it is to have packed this one in!

(IDK why so few readers haven't given it 1*, but now I'm afraid to.)

I'm not super concerned with plot. I'm kinda of the belief for example that DFW basically almost never told a story. Infinite Jest is a bunch of snapshots on a timeline back and forth in which next to nothing happens: he creates expansive moments and unpacks how the characters feel, and the fascinating progression of these layers of detail or flowing explanations is wha
My four-star rating will likely puzzle those friends of mine who have had to listen to me piss and moan about this novel for the past six months. My progress as a reader was, shall we say, embarrassingly slow. (In Stephenson's defense, I tended to put his novel aside after every 200 or so pages and read other things; the book actually moves pretty swiftly considering its size.) But the four-star rating is sincere: I did enjoy this very much, for the most part, and I intend to at last read Sno ...more
Aug 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: geeks
Recommended to Krissa by: Conrad, Stuart
I mean, FINE, okay, this is one of the most engrossing books I've ever read. I don't really mean "best" or "best-written", necessarily. I mean, it's a messy sprawling epic that's almost too clever by half and full of hilarious characters and history just-so tweaked to accommodate them and also pure unadulterated geekiness. So it's not really for everyone but boy did I lap it up and then eat my huge slices of humble pie for everyone in my life that's been bugging me to read it for about four year ...more
Garg Ankit
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson is an epic cross between science fiction and historical fiction. It involves Nazis, Japanese, and WWII, and the interesting field of cryptology and cryptocurrency, code breaking, computers, and gold.

I read the audiobook. The plot is so descriptive and intense that one loses sense of it at times when reading with breaks. The narration, in itself, is excellent.

I have made a mistake by not consuming the printed word for this title, so I would want everyone reading t
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Cryptonomicon is one of those plotty books, where things happen and then other things happen, which isn't really a knock: some of the best books ever are plotty. Lookin' at you, Count of Monte Cristo. But when you write a book about a bunch of stuff happening, it succeeds based on whether all the things that happen feel like part of a whole - whether all the threads come together. At their best, these books are giant jigsaw puzzles: a successful one is a masterpiece of planning ahead, and author ...more
4.0 stars. I am glad I finally got around to reading this as I had read so many sterling reviews and I am a big fan of Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash and The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer being two of my "All Time Favorite" novels). While not enjoying this as much as the two aforementioned books, there is no doubt that Stephenson can write and write well. The plot is complex, taking place in two time-lines (World War II and today) that eventually tie together, and containing a ...more
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Neal Stephenson is the author of Reamde, Anathem, and the three-volume historical epic the Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World), as well as Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

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