📚 Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
I ended up reading a few other books amidst consuming this. The book could not be made into a movie, but rather a 5 season show with hr long episodes at 10-12 per season. It was my first time reading Neal Stephenson and the genre of historical fiction.
Neal's writing style and depth of knowledge surrounding technology in the late 1990's put this book amongst one of my favorites. The descriptive passages are vivid and transporting, whether he's depicting the cryptic jungles of Bletchley Park, the bustling streets of Manila, or taking you inside the minds of Randy and Avi thinking through problems.
You follow along two parallel narratives. One is set against the backdrop of WW2 with Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse, Bobby Shaftoe, and some influence from names like Churchill, Roosevelt, MacArthur, and Turing. Lawrence is a mathematical genius, and after the war, is invited to start up the previously non-existent NSA. The second timeline is with the grandson of Lawrence, Randy Waterhouse. A crypto-hacker who is attempting to build a data-haven in Southeast Asia. Described as a place where data can be stored and exchanged free of repression or scrutiny.
Neal's ability to explain complex mathematical and technological concepts in an accessible manner is commendable. You can grasp the intricacies of cryptography without feeling overwhelmed. If you like history and technology, this story is a perfect fusion of the two.
I can dig into snapshots of the story with Goto Dengo and Bobby Shaftoe, but I'd rather keep it surface level as the book is long. My favorite themes were the interplay between secrecy and trust, and the power of information. It prompts you to contemplate the implications of cryptography in our world today.
Long (for me), but worth it.