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Crytonomicon by Neal Stephenson : A sprawling World War epic that will leave you smarter



The first book of Neal Stephenson's that I picked up was Anathem and I found that to be really tough going. This one though turned out to be a totally different beast( and a beast it is, at around 1100 pages). I was hooked in the first 100 pages(although admittedly it took me really long to finish)
Cryptonomicon connects two story lines one based in World War II and the other in 1990s internet era and they are connected by some strange family coincidences.
There is a lot of math and computer science going on here and Neal Stephenson does an admirable job of explaining it all. This is a geek novel if ever there was one with the most developed character being a fantasy card playing, slightly round around the paunches unix loving geek.The novel is very detailed in everything that it does and Stephenson takes great pains to explain everything that is being talked about and even goes so far as to provide equations. Heck there is a perl script thrown in with the actual text and the appendix contains a treatise on Solitaire by Bruce Schneider of all people.
This being a world war novel, Stephenson takes it into his hands to talk about the various cultures the novel is based in from Germany, Philippines to Japan(which he refers to as Nippon). In fact Nippon and Germany are disparaged and dealt with a tad harshly but then again the most heroic characters turn out to be a German and Nip so it certainly is a weird mix.
Neal Stephenson has a gift for making complex ideas understandable. Some might find that the novel digresses quite a lot but personally I enjoyed the rambling nature of the novel. No other novel packs as much information and as much thrill per page.
One thing that clearly shines through is the fact that Stephenson clearly loves to write about Crypto and the World War. Its a long and rewarding read and its at least equivalent to reading a trilogy and the feeling I have now is the one I had when I finally finished Lord of the rings(which is a good thing) and this book will stay in my head for at least a few days to come.

You can buy Cryptonomicon here.

Comments

basit said…
It is a bit too long :( i gave up after a couple of hundred pages
Kartik Kaipa said…
It is long agreed. It took me around a week to finish but on the whole its a good read. The thing is that this is probably his most accessible book.

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