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Slashdot: Code Breaking: A History and Exploration [Book Review]

Feb 06, 2001, 22:25 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by timothy)

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"A readable, lucid introduction to encryption with an emphasis on WWII applications, but with a range from Caesar to PGP."

"Code Breaking: A History and Exploration has joined Simon Singh's The Code Book on my bookshelf, and it's hard to read either of these books without comparing it to the other. If you've read the Singh book, though, you'll certainly find that the material covered overlaps heavily. Read on to find out if you'd enjoy checking out Kippenhahn's work."

"Lucidly, and in the way of great teachers who neither baffle nor condescend, Kippenhahn tells the story of how encryption and cryptanalysis has evolved through the ages, and sprinkles examples and reader exercises throughout. Unlike Singh's book, though, which starts its historical wanderings with Mary, Queen of Scots, Kippenhahn's draws the largest chunk of its examples from World War II. Given the scope and innovation in encryption that occurred in WWII, this can hardly be seen as a limitation. In fairness, that's not to say that many of his examples don't come from other times before or since World War II. Some of the hard to overlook techniques of encryption, as well several of the famous coded messages on which some of the turns of modern history have hinged are represented here. For instance, the Zimmerman telegram, probably one the most-pivotal, least-talked-about-in-school transmissions of the century, draws several pages explaining how the American and British espionage services ended up cracking the message which could have led to war between Mexico and the U.S."

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