Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
(Avon Press, New York: 1999)
READ: July 2007
Well, the third time's a charm. I first started to try to read this a number of years ago, while still a grad student, and quickly put it aside. Too big, too much. Then I tried again this past Christmas, while on vacation in Bali, but having just finished Simon Winchester's lengthy, though fascinating, book on the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, it was again quickly put aside, again, too big, too much.
But as my time in Japan was winding down, I tried once more. And this time, I couldn't stop reading. In the classic "just one more chapter" routine, I stayed up quite late, night after night, reading on and on, wanting to know and see and hear and experience more and more.
In a nutshell, it's a fascinating (but GIANT) novel, covering over 50 years in cryptography (code-breaking, essentially), from WWII to modern-day. There are three major story lines, but once I got used to who was who (which took a few chapters), I never got lost again. It's an excellent, compelling, fascinating read, and I highly recommend it.