Book Reviews of Cryptonomicon

Author: Neal Stephenson
ISBN-13: 9780380788620
ISBN-10: 0380788624
Publication Date: 6/1/2000
Pages: 928
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.

4.1 stars, based on 104 ratings
Publisher: Perennial
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

40 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
i read alot. and this is one of my all time favs. action adventure comedy romance seat of the pants suspense stints in jail invasions pirates submarines pretty girls nerdy guys navy seals mathmeticians poets pagans guns knives stern looks rowdy redneck cousins delicate relationships jungle hikes family and most importantly FUN. this book is not for the non devoted. big fat amount of pages where we learn vivid details of the delightful characters spun by stephenson. i feel like i know these people. and yes id choose doug shaftoe in a bar fight too id love to hang out with these dudes and drink a beer or two over grilled shrimp and ahi tuna steaks in manila b4 setting out to topple international economic structures and terrifying the IRS. count me in.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on
Helpful Score: 8
Well written, interesting story with memorable characters. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it even if it doesn't sound like your kind of story. I think that the back cover makes it sound kind of dull. World War 2, high tech finance, conspiracies, blah, blah, blah.

Although it is very funny in places, it is not the sort of book you pick up if you are looking for a quick, light read; it took me a long time to read this one. Not that it is boring, it's just a lot of book (1,152 pages of small print). It has multiple main characters and it covers a few generations.

Stephenson did a great job telling this story. I can't even imagine how hard it was to organize and write something this complicated.

I will never forget Waterhouse's ejaculation management obsession, theory and formula to explain it. Good stuff.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 26 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
A novel about Codes and Cyphers during the Second World War. The story line jumps back and forth through several story lines which makes reading dificult for some people. This is a very large paperback (1152 pages) and kept me entertained to the end.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This book is not the type my bookclub usually reads, so when one of the members selected it, I was leery. Then I bought it and was further daunted by the size. However I LOVED it. I don't think I have ever read a book that I found so engrossing. It zoomed to the top of my "Best Ever" list and a copy still sits on my "SAVE" shelf.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 201 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This was an interesting read. At a bit over 900 pages in an oversized paperback edition, it was a huge, long read as well.

I enjoyed this book a fair bit, actually. The first third or so might have been a bit slow - it took me a long time to get through it - but the rest went reasonably quickly. This is a geek book, though. It discusses any number of topics in depth, possibly far more depth than you're interested in reading if you're not a geek. Happily I am a geek and it worked well for me.

The plot revolves around the interconnected lives of several people at two different times: during the second world war and now. In particular we follow a marine in WW II, and cryptographer and mathematician working in WW II, and a programmer working now. Others factor in, of course, but those are the three main points of view. The marine winds up doing and seeing all kinds of interesting things during the war, some of which are never adequately explained, the cryptographer is more straight forward in some ways, and the programmer could be any of a number of people I know, at least in terms of background.

I think that - apart from it's sheer size - Cryptonomicon is an approachable book by Stephenson. I've read two others by him Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. For my money, this may be the best of the three. If you're looking for something substantial to read, this might be it.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 38 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This novel is top 5 all time for me. Don't read the jacket, just read the book. It's scope is beyond what any blurb could cover. Its funny, warm, and exciting, with so many interesting details that I had to read it twice. All in all, Cryptonomicon is just a great piece of speculative fiction.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 21 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Simply my favorite book ever. Stephenson shares his intricate knowledge of so many things in the world. I am ever his loyal fan.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 25 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A remarkable epic adventure of soldiers, secrets, gold, spies, codemakers and codebreakers, conspiracies, power, pirates, prisoners, lovers and great escapes-from one of the boldest imaginations in contemporary fiction.*

*Back of the book Cryptonomicon

Three novels in one. Featuring healthy protions of World War II adventure, cryptography and high-tech finance, with treasure hunting thrown in for good measure...But that's only half of it."*
*Review by USA Today
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Sort of hard to get into at first, but WORTH your time! Hilarious, gripping, awesome read.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Great book! It's long, but worth the read!
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 87 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
i loved this book. It's big, skips forward to 2000 and back to 1940. Quite a riot and funny as hell.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A dense, convoluted historical thriller. Not only is the story incredible, but in the process of reading this novel you end up learning about world history, creation and evolution of the information era, mining engineering, cryptonalysis, and much more.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Very enjoyable, and pretty close to a page-turner. Typically Stephenson in style, with loads of detail and interesting subplots.
The problem is that there are so many side plots raised during the course of this very long book, that many of them are completely unresolved. You are left at the end with so many questions that it's rather unsatisfying. And it's not that they are completely peripheral, because the author belabors some of those unresolved points at great length.
I liked the book, and I'm glad I read it, but it could have been much better edited.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 54 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Combines the best elements of espionage fiction with geek-chic sensibility
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 16 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is one of my all-time favorite books. Stephenson seamlessly blends historical figures and events with fiction in high-energy, funny prose. I don't have a strong grounding in science and at times found the math and science a bit daunting, but this didn't interfere with my enjoyment of this book. The book is long, and the three intertwined stories require some attention: this is not a casual read. It is, however, escapist fun.

Stephenson writes in two distinct genres: cyberpunk and his own brand of historically-grounded, science-informed fiction. This book is of the latter genre. If you love his cyberpunk you may not love this. If you read the Baroque Cycle, you probably will enjoy this book. (And if you didn't read the Baroque Cycle, I'd read this first - I disagree with the reviewer who said the opposite. Although the B.C. takes place chronologically before Cryptonomicon, this book: 1. Was written first; and 2. Is a smaller time investment in which to figure out if you like this writer.)
reviewed Cryptonomicon on
Helpful Score: 1
It's been a long time since I enjoyed an author's mastery of hyperbole and colorful descriptions of characters and their actions as much as this book, to the point where the plot seemed almost irrelevant at times. The jumping around in time and location was a little hard to follow occasionally, but seemed to come together well at the end. I'm looking forward to reading his other books.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A great yarn tangled up in history, which is best read after the Baroque Cycle books.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 32 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
An astonishing work. Definitely a book for adults, but this is a fascinating, rollicking alternative view of World War II and an intriguing story about cryptography and code breaking.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Excellent, several books in one. The book is about cryptography, computers, WWI codebreakers, but it's more than that and not entirely technical.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A remarkable epic adventure of soldiers, secrets, gold, spies, codemakers and codebreakers, conspiracies, power, pirates, prisoners, lovers and great escapes from one of the boldest imaginations in contemporary fiction.

This is a book to completely get lost in.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 283 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This colossal book is actually three different novels intertwined. Two are set in the WWII era and one takes place in the mid 1990s. Some of the same characters appear in more than one novel and so do their descendants. Cryptonomicon is fascinating for its exploration of mathematics and code breaking, and some actual historical characters have major roles. I loved this book! It was laugh out loud funny in several places and was always entertaining -- plus I learned many new vocabulary words as well! My highest recommendation!
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 33 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Cryptonomicon is in part the historical fiction of three stories. I found the World War II story lines more interesting than the present day one, but all three were well paced. Because each chapter alternates between the three stories, Stephenson has to do some writing tricks to clue the reader into which story he is reading. This makes it rather easy to read a chapter, put it down, and come back to the book later.
One of the few things that annoyed me was Stephenson's high frequency of metaphors and similies. Often he employs multiple to describe one item or event. Overall, it was an entertaining book.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A favorite of mine.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 91 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Rambling, long, difficult to follow, completely fascinating.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 88 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Great spy thriller. I highly recommend it!!
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
World war II intrigue, code breaking, high-tech finance schemes, treasure hunting, romance. It is long and complicated but a lot of fun.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on
Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon" is a phenomenon not to be missed. His brilliance and extensive research shine as in few other books. If you're looking for the kitschy sci-fi of his former work, you won't find it here. This is a serious work of intelligent entertainment which made me laugh out loud -- okay, I SNORTED! -- and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. This is a book to be savored and re-read multiple times for the sheer joy of immersing yourself in the work of a master wordsmith, as well as discovering subtleties you might have missed first time round because you were turning the pages so quickly. He handles the different time-frames of the two stories so deftly, you immediately understand their interconnectedness. He also raises an urgent and salient question about our global economy in light of current technology.
This book also introduces you to families revisited in his subsequent trilogy "The Baroque Cycle", which includes "Quicksilver", "The Confusion", and "The System of The World." Stephenson fleshes out realistic characters committing acts of super-reality, yet with flaws we all see in the mirror each day. I cannot recommend this book, or this author, highly enough.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 774 more book reviews
Enjoyed it a lot. I found it very informative as far as giving a lot of actual real information about the history of computers and codes... it inspired me to look up some facts to double-check things! Not really SF, per se, but definitely for those interested in sf/cyberpunk, as well as historical fiction.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 41 more book reviews
Typical Neal Stephenson story - lots of interesting characters, plot twists, and a touch of technology. I read everything of his that I can get my hands on.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on
This book is one of the best I've encountered; a long funny, educational and intuitive narrative about secrecy and the origins of cryptography. It foresees much of the internet that has emerged since it's writing.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 2 more book reviews
This book has me hooked on Stephenson!
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 648 more book reviews
It is difficult to decide how I feel about this book. The first 300 pages were the equivalent, in my opinion, of Chinese Water Torture. The author goes off on tangents of describing objects and places in lengthy detail, including the history of the making of them. While some of this is relevant to the story, many times it has no bearing whatsoever, and just makes a really long book that much longer. One example is around 300 pages into the story where the cover of this company's business plan-the COVER-mind you (which has no bearing on this tale)-is described as "rugged hand-laid paper of rice chaff, bamboo tailings, free range hemp, and crystalline glacial meltwater made by wizened artisans operating out of a mist-shrouded temple hewn from living volcanic rock on some island known only to aerobically gifted, Spandex-sheathed Left Coast travel bores..." When he's not giving wordy descriptions, he's going off on pointless, rambling metaphors. I nearly walked away at the thought of enduring 800+ more pages of this torture, but my reason for reading this is because it is listed on the "1,001 books to read..." and I felt there must be something. It did become really good around that time and was a very exciting read in places and very enjoyable through most of the rest of the book. (I wonder about schizophrenia with the author?) I was a little let down in the end, and felt that while it had a good story, it was disjointed and could have been better told in about 750 pages-not 1100+. This could partially be done by shortening the first 300 pages to perhaps the 50 pages relevant to the book.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 11 more book reviews
Enjoyable read. Very engrossing. The language and overly sexual nature of some of the characters can be distracting to the storyline. It seems the author is obsessed with sex and a couple of "colorful" words. He even seemed to delight in choosing to use those words in odd places where other words would seem to fit better. Overall though, a very good action story that keeps the reader guessing and wondering how the story will continue to morph.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 32 more book reviews
This is one of a few books that I reread often. Perhaps my favorite book ever. Lots of detail about cryptography during WWII and now. A must read for anyone who enjoys math, history, and cryptography.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 6 more book reviews
A great - though long - read. Also the sudden end i have come to expect of Stephenson.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 36 more book reviews
A BIG book. It is well written and and laid out, but I got too impatient to start another book, therefore, after 3 restarts I have yet to complete it. I still recommend it to those who have more self control or who read faster than me.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 91 more book reviews
While I respect everyone's opinion on those who liked it, I could not get into this book! I kept putting it down and after about 5 days I was still only on page 181! I posted it back on my bookshelf. I hope the next person likes it better than I did.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 8 more book reviews
Hard science. Complicated plot. Not a fastfood book.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 31 more book reviews
Almost defies description. Really three novels in one, featuring healthy portions of WWII adventure, cryptography, and high-tech finance, with treasure hunting thrown in for good measure.
reviewed Cryptonomicon on + 168 more book reviews
In German this would be called a "Schinken" (ham), because it's a heavy and looong book. Get a book support, because your book-holding arm will get tired!

It takes about 300 pages to figure out how the different story lines are connected. It starts to become interesting after about 450 pages. The chapters are really short and jump between the stories so much that it's confusing for quite some time, especially since the characters in the different settings share the same names (family history). Currently I am about half-way through and was already tempted several times to simply put the book down and not finish it (something I very rarely do!). It's not that Stephenson is a bad writer - he's quite good, but the endless metaphors start to become tedious after a while, and the constant jumps between stories do not exactly contribute to this reader's enjoyment. I guess the author purposely is trying to confuse the reader by having the book's format conform to its subject matter. Btw, the Wikipedia entry "Cryptonomicon" comes in handy if you want to keep track of the characters and get an overview.

I did enjoy the descriptions of the cryptography concepts and of the more technical aspects (e.g Van Eck phreaking).

I finally gave up at around 730+ pages, right after Randy's girlfriend followed him home ... that was just too implausible/contrived for me.

All in all - a good book for someone interested in WWII stories, and who doesn't mind fractured story lines. Sometimes a bit boring, sometimes (too few times for me) very interesting - requires patience, a strong arm (for holding the book), and possibly a flowchart.

P.S.: The book "Quicksilver" seems to be using the same dynasties set a few centuries ago - which is something I very much dislike; I won't be reading it - unfortunately I had already ordered it, so I'll post it unread.