Code to Zero

by Ken Follett

Hardcover, 2000



Fiction. Suspense. Thriller. Historical Fiction. HTML:In this classic Cold War thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Ken Follett puts his own electrifying twist on the space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. As the clock counts down to a shocking climax, "Code to Zero's split-second suspense proves that . . . [Follett is] still a hell of a storyteller" (Entertainment Weekly). January, 1958‚??the darkest hour of the Cold War and the early dawn of the space race. On the launch pad at Cape Canaveral sits America‚??s best hope to catch up with the Russians: the Explorer I satellite. But at the last moment, the launch is delayed due to weather, even though everyone can see it is a perfectly sunny day. The real reason for the delay rests deep in the mind of a NASA scientist who has awoken that morning to find his memory completely erased. Knowing only that he‚??s being followed and watched at every turn, he must find the clues to his own identity before he can discover who is responsible. But even more terrible is the dark secret that they want him to forget. A secret that can destroy the Explorer I‚??and America‚??s future. . . .  Praise for Code to Zero: "This spy thriller is Follett at his best." ‚??People "Starts off fast and never slows down. . . . Follett creates a rousing story that never flags." ‚??Chicago Tribune "Gripping." ‚??The New York Times "Flawlessly plotted, tautly told, and suspenseful." ‚??Minneapolis Star Tribune "A winner . . . a jolting joyride." ‚??St… (more)

Library's rating


(502 ratings; 3.4)


Audie Award (Finalist — 2001)

User reviews

LibraryThing member jo-jo
Code to Zero is a book that is packed with mystery, suspense, espionage, and love that leaves you perched on the edge of your seat until it is completed. I wasn't sure what to expect from Follett, as this is the first book that I have read (listened to) by him.

When Luke wakes up in a Washington
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D.C. train station dressed like a bum and with a case of amnesia, he finds himself having to rely on little clues to help piece is life together. Throughout the story, pieces of his memory come back to him through flashbacks. He learns that he is married to his college sweetheart, Elspeth, but just cannot understand how they became married. He had a later memory that put him in a very heated and romantic relationship with Billie, also a college friend, but just doesn't understand how that relationship dissolved.

As the book progressses Luke learns that he is actually a rocket scientist and the launch of Explorer I may be in jeopardy. I think that everyone is aware of the animosity that developed from space programs between the Russians and Americans and this book really highlighted the intensity of that period of time very well.

Between the CIA, the KGB, and the double agents Luke really wasn't sure who to trust towards the end of this novel. He had to rely on his instincts and make quick decisions that would affect his future and American history.

I don't want to go into too much detail as this book is categorized as a suspense/thriller, but I really did enjoy it, especially as an audiobook, and will more than likely read more of Follett's work in the future.
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LibraryThing member AshRyan
At first, this seemed like a pretty typical espionage thriller and nothing too special or exciting. But as the story progressed, the more I got involved in it and enjoyed it. The space race element was intriguing, but it was the characters that really got me hooked. Through their history and
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relationships, which unfold to the reader as the amnesiac main character rediscovers them, Follett dramatizes how communism ultimately means the sacrifice of all one's own personal values, everything and everyone he holds most dear. This makes for high drama, conflict that is meaningful both intellectually and emotionally as these elements are united in the story. Quite well done.
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LibraryThing member SandyAMcPherson
One of my favourite Follett novels. The plot development and charaterizations are excellent. Aside from the novel's overt theme, the depths of conviction that motivate a researcher are examined. [Spoilers!] A Soviet plot incapacitates an esteemed scientist with a secret amnesiac drug. In recovering
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his past history, he discovers facts about his wife and colleagues that lead him to abort a plot to prevent a space ship launch.
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LibraryThing member RonWelton
Ken Follett's Code to Zero begins with the protagonist, Luke, finding himself dressed in rags, hungover, and awakening on the floor of a public restroom next to a man who appears to be as ragged and hungover as himself. Luke's search for his identity makes for fascinating reading. Discovering his
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relationships to the major actors in his life: Elspeth, Anthony, Bern, and Billie follows, also fascinating, then follows a thrilling count down to zero.
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LibraryThing member DaddyPupcake
This is a good story. I felt that is was pretty exciting and the subject was unique. I'm not sure that a normal person would do some of the things that the characters did in the story but I guess that's all right because it is only fiction after all. All in all I believe that this book was money
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well spent.
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LibraryThing member Neilsantos
I liked it. Man, do I miss the Cold War; and I definately need a silencer. Maybe next Xmas...of course it's a Xmas gift, what do you think 'Silent Night' is all about?
LibraryThing member jewelryladypam
This was terrific! I chose this one after visiting Kennedy Space Center, and I was not disappointed! Would highly recommend and I give it 5 stars. It had it all - good characterization, well-paced plot that gradually builds to a last-50-pages crescendo, suspense, romance (not sappy), history, and
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was thought-provoking. I found it so well-written that I can't wait to read more by Follett.
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LibraryThing member SLuce
Really enjoyed- good thriller.
LibraryThing member skraft001
A well paced book that was enjoyable to read. There was a real goof early on in the book when the story being set in the late 1950's identifies a car as a Ford Fiesta. Follett has stated he meant the Olds Fiesta, but it had me questioning the proper dating everything else mentioned in the book
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which seriously distracted my attention. The other real bone head error was dating the last chapter as 1968 with the moon landing occurring then. Really stupid mistake that should be blamed as much on the proof readers as the author.
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LibraryThing member sianpr
A taut thriller albeit the Cold War reads as dated these days.
LibraryThing member repb
This was a difficult book for me to stay with; back and forth twisting plot with unbelievable characters. Can't find much positive to say about.
LibraryThing member Jarratt
"Code to Zero" was OK at best. I've never read Ken Follett and if this is representative of his other books, I'll probably not revisit him.

The premise of the story's not bad. It mostly takes place in early 1958 when the US is trying to answer the USSR's successful launch of Sputnik. Luke Lucas
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wakes up in a Union Station men's room with no idea who he is or how he got there. The first part of the book is him trying to figure all that out. Meanwhile, we see an old friend of his, who works in the CIA, clearly trying to keep Luke from discovering what's going on.

Part of the problem is that an author's note at the beginning of the book goes ahead and tells us the CIA worked to find ways of erasing people's memories. So we go into the story strongly assuming that's what happened to Luke. It would have been nice to discover that along with him.

Basically Luke is a rocket scientist who discovers information that he needs to get to Pentagon brass. But someone is doing their best to keep that from happening. There's a few OK twists here and there, but there was a little too much relationship melodrama along the way for me to truly enjoy what is supposed to be a spy thriller.

I do have to mention a HUGE error in the book, which happens to come at the very end. Each chapter begins with either a time or a date. In the epilogue, the date given is 1968. The content of said epilogue? The US landing on the moon. I mean, really?
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LibraryThing member Foghorn-Leghorn
This was a quick interesting tale. Not as good as his earliest works or Pillars of the Earth.
LibraryThing member edwardsgt
Shortly before the launch of America’s first attempt at a response to Sputnik in 1958, a man awakens in the men’s room of Union Station in Washington, D.C. and he has absolutely no idea who he is. He’s covered in vomit and dressed like a bum, but at a local shelter he puzzles the priest in
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charge by displaying rather extraordinary crossword puzzle skills. He soon discovers that someone is following him, and that he seems to have all sorts of skills that unfathomably seem innate. By dint of some very clever self-analysis of these skills, he manages to go to a lecture where he is sure someone will recognize him and help him to restore his identity. Okay, but a few date errors crept in.
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LibraryThing member creighley
America 1958 when we are in the race of our lives to control outer space. A man wakes up in Union Station, Washington, D.C. with amnesia. Searching for answers to his past, he uncovers a shocking truth which could derail America’s space program.
LibraryThing member zot79
A very good and fast read. I loved the setting and the characters were interesting. It's amazing how much better this was than another rocket sabotage book that I read recently by Tom Clancy. Where that one was full of extraneous characters and extra locations and techno-babble, this book was
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streamlined and arrow sharp. I almost gave it less than a four-star rating due to the blandness of the prose and the somewhat predictable plot. However, the author managed to inject tension in every page and keep everything real, creating a definitely recommendable read.
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Penguin Group (2000), 306 pages

Original publication date





0525945636 / 9780525945635


Original language

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