Cryptonomicon Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Cryptonomicon.
This section contains 437 words
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Cryptonomicon Summary & Study Guide Description

Cryptonomicon Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson is a hilarious and informative book about code breaking and cryptology. The novel is concerned with several generations of math geniuses and computer whizzes, who are all tied together through the gold the Axis powers buried in the Philippines near the end of World War II.

There were three students at Princeton before the war, Lawrence Waterhouse, Alan Turing and Rudy von Hacklheber. All were math geniuses. Turing returned to England and von Hacklheber to Germany when they finished their academic work. During the war, von Hacklheber was a top cryptologist for Germany, and Turing and Waterhouse were the top cryptologists for the Allies. Waterhouse was with the supersecret Detachment 2702 to which Bobby Shaftoe was asigned. He was a friend of the Japanese Goto Dengo, who designed a huge vault in the Philippines where gold from various countries was hidden.

Many years later, their children and grandchildren come together and meet some of the World War II survivors. Doug Shaftoe and his daughter Amy run a marine salvage company in the Philippines. They enter into a contract with Epiphyte Corporation, for whom Randy Waterhouse works. They are creating a big data haven in the Sultanate of Kinakuta and are laying undersea cable for the Internet and Telecommunications. They have a plan to create an electronic currency that is backed by gold that will function through the Crypt, which is what the data haven is called.

The Shaftoe's salvage operations result in the finding of a briefcase on a sunken U-boat. The encrypted sheets are in the handwriting of Rudy von Hacklheber, and the race is on to decrypt them and learn the location of Golgotha, the gold storage vault. This results in Randy being set up on a drug charge until he breaks the Arethusa code so somebody else can learn the location.

The action of the novel takes place around the world as the character move around, both during wartime and in modern times. The reader can watch the action taking place in these locations, ranging from a college library to a German U-boat. Hacking is also a specialty of the modern-day main characters, and the reader watches as they move messages and information around the Internet in ways that can't be traced.

Don't let the size of the book, more than nine hundred pages, scare you. The book is fast reading and the reader does not need knowledge of the math used to explain cryptology to enjoy the book. It is interesting to learn how the codes were broken in World War II and how modern day hackers operate.

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This section contains 437 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Cryptonomicon Study Guide
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