The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Coming on 20 years after the book was written, it’s still quite awesome despite all our subsequent advances in cryptography.
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 awesome crash course in the history of encryption from the Middle Ages or earlier, say Roman or Greek, all the way forward to mechanical solutions a-la Babbage and right into the thrilling good stuff of WW2, including Turing and the awesome Code Talkers.
The advances since then are almost stunningly fascinating, however, and aside from Zimmerman’s courageous advent of PGP, the REST of the story may well be trapped under National Security blankets still.
Alas. What I wouldn’t give to get a backstage pass to those goings-on. :)
Well written, accessible, and rather thorough, this book remains one of the best books on encryption for laypersons. Highly recommended.
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