Book Reviews of Enigma

Enigma
Enigma
Author: Robert Harris
ISBN-13: 9780804115483
ISBN-10: 0804115486
Publication Date: 9/1/1996
Pages: 384
Rating:
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 57

3.9 stars, based on 57 ratings
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

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

reviewed Enigma on + 58 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A wonderful, intriguing book that is based on true events from WWII. This book revolves around the true events of the German Enigma code, U-boats in the Atlantic, and the Bletchley Park cryptographers. This is, however, a fictional story with themes of romance and treason. I've heard this author compared to John LeCarre, so if you like his books, you may also enjoy this one.
reviewed Enigma on + 25 more book reviews
Englang 1943. A crack team has broken the Nazi Enigma code. Suspenseful and Fascnating. A very good read.
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Interesting WWII story set in England. older cover than shown, I bought used.
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Good historical thriller
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High Intrigue...Suspense to the end.
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Exciting WWII spy novel.
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Set during WWII, Harris's latest thriller concerns the British attempt to crack the Nazis' secret codes.
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Intriguing story of WWII code breakers
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Much better than the movie!
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Excellent: Harris once again creates a tense, intriguing thriller: a fiction rooted in real life events surrounding the breaking of the famous Nazi Enigma code at Bletchley Park, during World War II.

Be warned that this is definitely a slow burn, and part of its fascination for me was the way that Harris immerses the reader in the "dog days" of the War: early 1943, when the people of Britain had already endured almost four years of major terror and minor privations -- bad food, crumbling infrastructure, little hot water for washing clothes or bodies -- with no end in sight, in spite of the involvement of their American allies. As readers, we know that the sacrifices, and what the protagonist describes as the "petty humiliations" of wartime Britain, will turn out to be worth it, and the Nazis will be defeated, but here, you can experience what it might have been like to be living through it all with the strong possibility that Britain and its people will end up like France, or the Netherlands. Or Poland.

Harris also does a very good job of making accessible the technology behind the breaking of the Enigma code -- technology which Harris is very much at pains to make clear, was initially smuggled out of Poland, and given to Britain by Polish exiles was part of their effort to defeat the common enemy. This, in effect, kick-started the dawn of the computer era, as the the Polish code-breaking technology was combined with the ideas of a man called Alan Turing, and brought to life as contraptions called "bombes" (that is, very early computers, that seemed, if i followed correctly, to be oil drums connected to a rats' nest of wires, and powered by steam. OK, maybe not really ... ) which could run "menus" (or what we would call "programs") which allowed bright young men (not, heaven forfend women, oh, no ...) who were good at maths and crossword puzzles to break the Nazi codes. For some readers, I will allow, there might be too much info-dumping about the code breaking, but I found it fascinating, and almost understood it.

At the center of all this is the disappearance of a young woman with whom the romantically challenged, eternal school-boy protagonist Tom Jericho is obsessed, and this is, of course, a McGuffin, pure and simple, something to give some narrative structure, and tension, to the lessons about code-breaking. I can tell when I'm getting a spoonful of (inferior war-time, rationed) sugar to help the lesson go down. However, the revelation of why the young woman has disappeared, when it comes, is a real kick in the stomach -- a horror story, again rooted in real wartime events, and one that highlights Harris' genuinely important theme: what compromises are we willing to make -- compromises to comfort, safety and ethics -- to defeat a terrible foe?
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England 1943. Much of the infamous Nazi Enigma code has been cracked. But Shark, the impenetrable cipher used by Nazi U-boats, has masked the Germans' movements, allowing them to destroy Allied vessels. Now a top-secret team of British cryptographers works feverishly around the clock to break Shark. And when brilliant mathematician Tom Jericho succeeds, it is the stuff of legend.

Until the unthinkable happens: the Germans change the code. As an Allied convoy crosses the U-boat-infested North Atlantic...as Jericho's ex-lover disappears amid accusations that she is a Nazi collaborator...as Jericho strains his last resources to break Shark again, he cannot escape the ultimate truth: There is a traitor among them.