Wednesday, May 7, 2014

20 Books: Cryptonomicon

This is part of a sub-series of postings based on the "20 Books Cybersecurity Professionals Should Read Now".

Neil Stephenson is one of the leading authors in the "cyberpunk" genre, which I covered in a prior posting about Neuromancer.  Not surprisingly, he has 3 of his works on this list.  I already covered his earlier work, Snow Crash (1992).  Now I move to what is considered his second masterpiece, Cryptonomicon.

In this work, there are two separate, but connected storylines.  The storylines are separated by time, but have some of the same characters or linked between the two groups.

One storyline is set during WWII and centered around Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse, a young United States Navy code breaker and mathematical genius.  He is assigned to the newly formed group called Detachment 2702.  Their focus is to keep the Axis from knowing that the Allies has broken the Enigma code.

The second storyline is set in the 1990s, and centers around Randy Waterhouse (Lawrence's grandson).  He involved in a venture with others that involved creating a secure data haven and cryptography.

The book gets into some cryptographic details, which may be off putting for some people.

I do recall after reading it at the time that I figured there would be a sequel, but instead he wrote a prequel trilogy called the Baroque Cycle.

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