Listed as one of the essential 50 books of all time in The Guardian
It's only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades--all before his suicide at age forty-one. This classic biography of the founder of computer science, reissued on the centenary of his birth with a substantial new preface by the author, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life.
A gripping story of mathematics, computers, cryptography, and homosexual persecution, Andrew Hodges's acclaimed book captures both the inner and outer drama of Turing's life.Hodges tells how Turing's revolutionary idea of 1936--the concept of a universal machine--laid the foundation for the modern computer and how Turing brought the idea to practical realization in 1945 with his electronic design. The book also tells how this work was directly related to Turing's leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II, a scientific triumph that was critical to Allied victory in the Atlantic. At the same time, this is the tragic story of a man who, despite his wartime service, was eventually arrested, stripped of his security clearance, and forced to undergo a humiliating treatment program--all for trying to live honestly in a society that defined homosexuality as a crime.
©2012 Andrew Hodges (P)2012 Audible Ltd
"A first-rate presentation of the life of a first-rate scientific mind...it is hard to imagine a more thoughtful and warm biography than this one." (NYT Book Review)
"A superb biography. . . . Written by a mathematician, it describes in plain language Turing's work on the foundations of computer science and how he broke the Germans' Enigma code in the Second World War. The subtle depiction of class rivalries, personal relationships, and Turing's tragic end are worthy of a novel. But this was a real person. Hodges describes the man, and the science that fascinated him--which once saved, and still influences, our lives." (Margaret Boden, New Scientist)
"One of the finest scientific biographies I've ever read: authoritative, superbly researched, deeply sympathetic and beautifully told." (Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind.)
"One of the finest scientific biographies ever written." (Jim Holt, New Yorker)
"A first-class contribution to history and an exemplary work of biography." (I. J. Good, Nature)
"An almost perfect match of biographer and subject. . . . [A] great book." (Ray Monk, Guardian)
This is a monumental biography of one of the great minds of the 20th century who, sadly, didn't get the recognition he deserved until well after his death. Despite some very complex descriptions of mathematical theorems, I was captivated by the mixture of Turing's personal life with his contributions to code-breaking and computing. Interwoven into the story one is reminded of how very different social norms were in the 1950s and how tragically Turing was cruelly treated by the system for being a homosexual.
The narrator deserves a medal for his excellent rendition of over 30 hours of recording and mastering the mathematical notations.
I enjoyed this book because it made me understand as Alan Turing's interests in various branches of science led him to start the era of the computer, to figure out a machine could be developed to have an intelligence which is a wonderful tool for human intelligence and can even challenge it. And also this book portrays Alan's personal life, explains his love for freedom, truth and integrity, how he stood up to prejudices of society until he died. The listening was wonderful and involving, I loved it.
A couple of things stood out in this book. The first is that I am too stupid to fully appreciate this book. The second is that while being brilliant and an influential person in computing, Turing didn't have an interesting enough life to justify such a long autobiography. That isn't to say he doesn't deserve to have his life documented, just that it doesn't make for the best listen. Again this is a personal thing of enjoying lighter biographies like Steve Jobs.
If you are more knowledgeable about computing and maths then you will get a lot more from this book as you will be ale to understand the finer details which made up so much of the bulk of the material. For me it went right over my head and there would be hours when I just switched off.
This book is also a biography of computing and maths as well as Turing. Sadly my maths doesn't go beyond GCSE and I felt I was missing out on a lot while listening.
The narrator was perfect in my opinion. It deserves pointing out.
Yes, I think I would but with the warning that it goes into A LOT of detail about the logic and maths behind the enigma, which can be a good thing if your mind is able to deal with that sort of information. I enjoyed it, but sometimes it felt like a Maths lesson.
Just getting a deeper understanding of a very complex man.
Felt very frustrated about how homosexuals have been treated in our past.
This book is a pretty good split between the life story of Alan Turing - which as a lover of biographies I really enjoyed - and details about the paper he wrote on Computable Numbers, how the enigma worked, etc.
No, unless they were writing a dissertation on Alan Turing or were a die-hard fan.
No. It is the dullest book I have ever read or listened to. It is amazing that the story of such a great man, a hero to many, who lived such an incredible life in the most dramatic of times and through a World War, having been the inventor of computing, has been turned into such a dull and monotonous book. It is a travesty really. The only reason I persisted was out of respect for Alan Turing and his achievements.I can't fault the research, it is incredibly detailed and perhaps too much so. I would draw an analogy of reading this book to reading the dictionary. Incredibly detailed, but no life to the story.
Although he had been dealt a bad hand with this one, he could have perhaps attempted to inject a little more life into the narration.
No, this covers everything.
Dr Dinah Parums. I am now retired and have always been an avid reader of fiction, non-fiction and biography. Audible have widened my range.
Moving; informative; compassionate.
Andrew Hodges’ biography of the British mathematician, Alan Turing (1912-1954) is listed as ‘one of the essential 50 books of all time’ in The Guardian. This biography is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand how Turing's revolutionary ‘idea’ of 1936, the concept of a ‘universal machine’, laid the foundation for the modern computer and how Turing brought the idea to practical realization in 1945 with his electronic design. A very engaging story of mathematics, computers, cryptography, and homosexual persecution, Andrew Hodges' book involves the listener in both the inner and outer drama of Turing's life. It is very moving as well as informative.
The narration by Gordon Griffin is very good. However, why not ask Andrew Hodges to narrate his version next time.
The film of Turing’s life, ‘The Imitation Game’ is due for release in 2014 and starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead playing Alan Turing.
I would have called the film 'The Big Idea that Saved the 20th Century'.
The book is written as a true labour of love and was published in 2012 to mark the centenary of Turing’s birth. It may seem a little like hero-worship, but it describes how this one man saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer, invented the concept of artificial intelligence, and possibly anticipated gay liberation by decades; this was all before his suicide at the age forty-one. But, in terms of ‘big ideas’ Turing ranks alongside Darwin.
This book is destined to be the definitive work about Turing’s life. All this from an Oxford mathematician whose students and colleagues may have known him best for his own work on ‘Twistor Theory’ and for his teaching at the Maths Institute and Wadham College, Oxford. Such a revelation to know that a modern mathematician can also write so movingly and so clearly.
Alan Turing was not your normal chap, but then normal chaps don't step so far out of the box to re-invent and drastically improve that box either. The cloistered academic community does have a place in this world if you think about it which is exactly what they were doing! Cool.
Apparently the life of Alan Turing wasn't so special after all. Nevertheless, this is an interesting listen even though it gets very technical a couple of times. The reader was enjoyable to listen to most of the time, but his young Alan Turing voice sounds annoyingly innocent.
Writer, geek, dad.
I'm four hours in and I'm still listening to Alan Turing's school days which, as far as I can tell, were no more interesting or dramatic than the average. Somehow, Andrew Hodges has contrived to make the biography of one of the most interesting and influential figures of the 20th Century boring. Congratulations.
I found this a fascinating story and I learned a lot about Turing and what he achieved.
There is a lot of detail, which is hard to follow in audio book form without diagrams - and one probably needs to be interested in the finer details of (early) computers to fully appreciate it.
I found the continual expounding on his homosexuality and attitudes at the time a little tiring.
I was however very irritated by the reading style. The voice styles adopted by the narrator bordered on the absurd - from his imitation of Turing's voice, to the adoption of a German accent when speaking for Von Neumann were ridiculous and seriously detracted from my enjoyment.
In summary, a very interesting and complete telling of the Turing story, spoiled a bit by some very dubious narration.
"WAY too technical !!"
I wanted the biography of Alan Turing, now this book has his biography but well over HALF the book is just technical math stuff about the various projects he worked on throughout his life.
If you are a math enthusiast and are interested in hearing a good 7 hours of it, this book is for you.
The general story is one of interest, but the book is painfully, painfully long. I am 7 hours into listening to the story and I am bored to tears. He is all of 21 years old at this stage. Rather than touching on some highlights about his upbringing we are being forced to listen to every detail about his childhood. Additionally, rather than paraphrase the mathematical steps in his early learning, we are forced to listen to lengthy dry, mathematical theories written longhand.
I wanted to learn about the life of Turing,not relive each minute of it. There are almost 25 hours of listing to go... Someone needs to edit this book down to some thing more readable. And I am not opposed to long stories. I really enjoyed the Steve Jobs story. Fortunately, in that book, they did not read each and every letter home that he wrote before the age of 21. We desperately need an abridged version!!!
"Long, Detailed But Excellent Listen"
This book is especially interesting after having listened to George Dyson's Turing Cathedral, which paints the picture of what happened on the US side of the Atlantic during that time period and the very different but equally brilliant John Von Neumann.
Alan Turing The Enigma is long, very detailed and is some places drags. But it IS meant to be a "definitive biography" so such is to be expected.
The technical material presented was not too deep nor too shallow for me - an electrical engineer and programmer.
In my opinion, you can not know Alan Turing without knowing his homosexuality and what he endured because of his independent nature. If such matters turn you off, then that's an intellectual loss for you.
I can only say that I am delighted I chose to spend the hours listening to this book, especially given that I will soon be seeing the movie based on it.
"Really well done"
Alan Turing was the most significant scientific mind of the 20th century, so were his accomplishments. I want to know as much as possible about this great mind. To say that this is too long and too detailed is idiotic. The narration is top notch and worthy of the subject. It is a tragedy for the human race that this great mind was crushed by ignorance and arrogance. If given his full life his accomplishments and the benefits to scientific knowledge would have matched or exceeded Einstein.
"I enjoyed it immensely."
I was blown away. Good job.
Very much so, I have long been a fan of Sir Turning, this book has done him justice.
Yes, I could not put it down.
Nothing, it was most interesting.
Bravo, nicely done.
I did not love any of it, However it was worth listening to it
Not really , to much Guy Sexual discussion toward the end of the book
If you want a book to try and understand Homosexuality and if you understand endless quoting of maths formula , then this might be for you, if you want to know more about code breaking look else where
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