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Summary

Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century.

In 1942, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse - mathematical genius and young Captain in the US Navy - is assigned to Detachment 2702. It is an outfit so secret that only a handful of people know it exists, and some of those people have names like Churchill and Roosevelt. The mission of Watrehouse and Detachment 2702 - commanded by Marine Raider Bobby Shaftoe - is to keep the Nazis ignorant of the fact that Allied Intelligence has cracked the enemy's fabled Enigma code. It is a game, a cryptographic chess match between Waterhouse and his German counterpart, translated into action by the gung-ho Shaftoe and his forces. 

Fast-forward to the present, where Waterhouse's crypto-hacker grandson, Randy, is attempting to create a "data haven" in Southeast Asia - a place where encrypted data can be stored and exchanged free of repression and scrutiny. As governments and multinationals attack the endeavor, Randy joins forces with Shaftoe's tough-as-nails granddaughter, Amy, to secretly salvage a sunken Nazi submarine that holds the key to keeping the dream of a data haven afloat.

But soon their scheme brings to light a massive conspiracy, with its roots in Detachment 2702, linked to an unbreakable Nazi code called Arethusa. And it will represent the path to unimaginable riches and a future of personal and digital liberty...or to universal totalitarianism reborn. 

A breathtaking tour de force, and Neal Stephenson's most accomplished and affecting work to date, Cryptonomicon is profound and prophetic, hypnotic and hyper-driven, as it leaps forward and back between World War II and the World Wide Web, hinting all the while at a dark day-after-tomorrow. It is a work of great art, thought, and creative daring.

©1999 Neil Stephenson (P)2009 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about Cryptonomicon

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Ended abruptly

Going into so much detail, suprised it ended so abruptly. Still, very interesting & enjoyable.

3 people found this helpful

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Stunning

What did you like most about Cryptonomicon?

The narrator, William Dufris. This book was amazing in itself, but Kramer really did a number on this. I can easily imagine myself not having enjoyed the book as much were it not for being able to hear his performance.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Waterhouse, the socially inept little nerd, loved him right from the start, and it wasn't long before I grew to enjoy every single section featuring sergeant Shaftoe as well.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The fog horn mounted on 'there but for the grace of god'

3 people found this helpful

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Mixed emotions

This was no doubt about it, a really good book. But it is way too long and frequently boring as hell. Trying to piece together parts from one end of the story to another can be like playing sodoku by memory. But seen as a series of smaller events that are all in their own right very good, which work together to create one whole tapestry, yes, it works and it works well. But by heck its a lot of work.

When a chap in the story observes a spiders web and sees how the spider can react to different things, not because of the movement but because of the lack of certain movement, you should by that point know whether the book is for you or not. I loved this concept and all the concepts that tied in with it - and then their real world application and how they created a series of events that eventually became what they do.

However, these concepts draw together like a diagram of the final fastest and shortest era on Earth (according to the Aztecs) as this era is cast off, but then never takes us anywhere. There is no realisation to this story. Its just launch pad of concepts. Unlike many a book though, I wouldn't take back the time I spent on it (and its a lot!) because it has helped with mature and put form to many of my own ideas.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Just genius

Like a piece of cryptography, patterns and associations begin to emerge the more you delve into this story. About two thirds of the way in, the disparate strands of the timelines and characters begin to come together in the most riveting way.

Worth 40 hours of your life? - Absolutely.

5 people found this helpful

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Top men

Loved it. Very long but always buzzing, fascinating characters and story. Only exception is that female cardboard cutouts exist only to receive male attention and sperm.

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Too wordy. Pointless details that really add little

I really couldn’t get on with this. Tried for 4 hrs that I’ll never get back. I siinply didn’t see the story going anywhere.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding Translation of a Classic

I'd already read Cryptonomicon, a couple of times, prior to listening to it. I couldn't have been more pleased. Dufris captures the essence of this weighty journey admirably, and his intonation and studied understanding comes across with real heartfelt sympathy for the motley collection of characters and rich locations both historical and contemporary. I couldn't have been happier at the treatment of what I believe to be Stephenson's finest book.

5 people found this helpful

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man pronounce weird

A great book, epic in scale and well realised. His use of language reminded me of P.G.Wodehouse. Interesting stuff. I'm conflicted about the narrator though. He kept me interested but weirdly mispronounced about 10% of the normal English words and nearly all the foreign words and place names. It was like someone phonetically picking out words that he'd never heard. Very odd. I'll be investigating Stephenson's other stuff though as I'd not come across him before. Excellent.

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Struggled to get through this was expecting better

Struggle to get through was expecting much more especially after enjoying Reamde so much lots of babbling about maths formulas and in depth discussions about encryption and at one point a character goes on a lesson about Greek mythology. Maybe I am not intelligent enough for this but most of it went over my head and as for the ending...... No.... No... No

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  • MC
  • 15-02-21

Brilliant

William Dufris does a magnificent narration.
The story is wide in scope and meanders. I found it completely engaging. Many chapters work well as a listen in their own right.
Aside from being an entertaining action yarn, it was very touching- some lovely friendships.

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  • Joshua
  • 20-06-16

Two thirds through and quit

Neal Stephenson books are always highly rated on Audible, but man, this guy just doesn't do it for me. Cryptonomicon jumps around in it's narration for no discernible reason. If you're not listening to it all in one sitting, you're not going to follow the multiple story lines.

But it really doesn't matter because all the story lines are boring anyway. I mean, a couple of them start strong, but boy do they get stale fast.

Two thirds through the book and I barely care about any of the characters. I'm a bit confused as to what's going on in a couple of the plot lines, and too bored by the book to go back and re-listen.

This is the third Stephenson book that made me feel this way. I'm done. And I'm not going to punish myself by sitting through the rest of this plodding nonsense.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Jerry Fletcher
  • 18-10-20

Loved the Book and "Every-Single-Little-Thing"

I thoroughly love this Cryptonomicon - all 42 hours of the audiobook. I had to re-listen to a couple of the early chapters to sort all the timelines and principal characters, but once I got going, I didn't want it to end. The overall all plot lines and characters had me fully engaged, but what I enjoyed even more the the the astonishing density of insightful observations about every-single-little-thing the characters encounter - especially Waterhouse. I have a thing for patterns myself, and Stephenson's many diversions and doglegs were inspiring and delightful. I found I couldn't listen to Cryptonomicon any way other than absolutely actively engaged or I'd be lost and rewinding chapters for a second listen. Another amazing aspect of Cryptonomicon - any book with with heavy plot lines in tech/coding written twenty-one years ago could have been extremely dated, but it's amazing how many things Stephenson got right and and how many of the issues (bitcoin) are still fresh. Got to give some props to the narrator William Dufris. His many voices really added a lot of nuance for me and heightened many of the humorous scenes. This is my second Neal Stephenson book after Seveneves. I need to go back and listen to some of SE, because I really don't think I would have guessed they came from the same author. Not sure which Stephenson book is next ... Snow Crash, Anathem, Fall or Dodge in Hell. Recommendations appreciate.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Druinfly
  • 16-02-21

Solid fun. [>|<]

Enjoyed this performance. Was a bit wary after reading other reviews saying it jumped around and wouldn’t be good unless listened to in one sitting.

Glad I didn’t bother with those reviews. The timeline presented was purposeful, compelling characters woven thoughtfully together. I listened to it over the course of several weeks and had no issue following the narrative.

It was exciting, dark, hilarious and moving. I recommend this one. [>|<]

Narrator nailed the performance, good show.

6 people found this helpful

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  • K. Wilson
  • 27-05-20

Favorite Author and Perfect Narration. Great Value

This book is long. Could have been 2 or 3. I appreciate the value. This book is intense and jammed packed with interesting situations. it was hard to follow in the beginning but characters were explored in depth. I learned much about digital currency on the side - painlessly lol. Get this book.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Michael Flyger
  • 26-06-20

the narrator is amazing

I've loved this book for years. Dufris actually Rut's dialect, no mean feat. Do buy.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Oatie J R
  • 25-06-20

captivating and a wonderful listen

captivating story and a fantastic narration. I would highly recommend this book. very interesting sci-fi / fantasy.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Joey
  • 13-12-15

What is this, a man's rights propaganda pamphlet?

What would have made Cryptonomicon better?

less indefensible rhetoric. hes as lazy as Ayn Rand is at creating antagonists--i.e. shallow, poorly represented, emotional, irrational, and stupid characters. Its just unrealistic. At least present the other side of the argument instead of just your strawman.

What was most disappointing about Neal Stephenson’s story?

Author is more interested in his self esteem than creating a good story.

Would you be willing to try another one of William Dufris’s performances?

no, too melodramatic

4 people found this helpful

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  • W. R. Jaeckle
  • 31-07-11

Importance of good narration

The narrator almost entirely ruins listening to this book, which was a tremendously good read. Glaringly he mispronounces the frequent Philippine words and place names. He narrates sentence by sentence rather than appreciating the developing line of the story being expressed. I would not have used up two credits for this if I had payed enough attention to sample the quality of narration beforehand. My bad.........

10 people found this helpful

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  • Lee Hoffman
  • 31-01-21

Just so great.

It’s interesting to absolutely love a 40+ hour audiobook and then read reviews from folks who hated it. Different courses for different horses, I guess. All I can say is this book made everything I was doing while listening (bike riding, cleaning, driving, waiting in line outside Costco) a fantastically better experience than it would have been without having these characters to keep me company. This is a total, unadulterated rave!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Nathan McKim
  • 10-02-21

amazing, what a fascinating depiction of brillianc

loved it! amazing depiction of brilliant minds that ties to timelines together from world war II to modern technology and the evolution of computing technology with a captivating narrative of modern technology and brilliance past and present

1 person found this helpful