The Code Book, Simon Singh (6/10)

A story of ciphers and encryption through history

The Code Book, Simon Singh (6/10)

Rating: 6/10

Read More on Goodreads

🤔 Pre Read Exercise: What Do I Know About This Topic/Book?

  • Book – pretty much nothing. It’s about the history of code and cryptography. I saw it highly rated and reviewed on Goodreads and aped blindly.
  • Topic – pretty much nothing. I know a bit about cryptography via Bitcoin research and some basic stuff related to Imitation Games, Morse Code, Alan Turing.

🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. A story of ciphers and encryption through history
  2. Multi-facted, covering maths, history, personalities,
  3. A cat and mouse history of cryptanalysts vs. cryptographers

🎨 Impressions

I liked this book because it’s incredibly comprehensive, well-researched, and multi-faceted. It explains each technological breakthrough starting with the history (including the individuals), and then unveiling the practical and mathematical, and includes lots of charts, tables, maths, and puzzles.

I didn’t like this book because it was very verbose and too historical. I was hoping for there to be many more parallels drawn to where we are today. While it sparked a lot of my intellectual curiosity, I got bored quite quickly and there was friction finishing the book.

🔍 How I Discovered It

  • Stumbled upon on Goodreads

🥰 Who Would Like It?

  • If like like history, digital privacy, logical deductions, puzzles, maths, data interpretation.

☘️ How the Book Changed Me

  • The cat-and-mouse nature of this book with respect to cryptanalysts and cryptographers reminded me of how human history and most of what we engage with in life is “just another one of those”.
  • I also learned about the differences between cryptography, steganography, ciphers, encryption and decryption.

💬 My Top Quotes

"Cryptography used to be an obscure science, of little relevance to everyday life. Historically, it always had a special role in military and diplomatic communications. But in the Information Age, cryptography is about political power, and in particular, about the power relationship between a government and its people. It is about the right to privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of political association, freedom of the press, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, freedom to be left alone.”

"The fundamental question is whether or not governments should legislate against cryptography. Cryptographic freedom would allow everyone, including criminals, to be confident that their e-mails are secure. On the other hand, restricting the use of cryptography would allow the police to spy on criminals, but it would also allow the police and everybody else to spy on the average citizen.”

"The deciding factor will be whom the public fears the most - criminals or the government”