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21 November 2008
I have had the opportunity of hearing Simon Singh talk at Batchley Park when I worked in IT security. I received a free signed copy of the first version of the book, which is the version I'm reviewing. He was a very enthusiastic presenter and his enthusiasm also shows through in the book.
The Code Book is easy to read. Is good at explaining the way the encryption and decryption works without getting too bogged down in the theory and in particular the complex maths. It also covers the history of codes and code breaking without making getting boring.
The book includes examples where you are encouraged to have a go at solving the problems. There is even an unbroken code to have a go at beating the experts.
An updated version would be good. A new version could add WEP and WAP which would made a great additional chapter to this book. Note there is a newer version (see The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-breaking from Amazon.co.uk)
This book is likely to be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in computers and IT security, but also those interested in the second world war and for film buffs it helps to explain the theory behind the likes of Enigma and U-571.
More of a book about cryptography in the past rather than a modern reference, but it's a great addition to your bookshelf.