Kodboken : konsten att skapa sekretess - från det gamla Egypten till kvantkryptering

by Simon Singh

Other authorsMargareta Brogren
Paper Book, 1999



Call number




Stockholm : Norstedt, 1999 ;


Computer Technology. Mathematics. Technology. Young Adult Nonfiction. HTML:"As gripping as a good thriller." �The Washington Post Unpack the science of secrecy and discover the methods behind cryptography�the encoding and decoding of information�in this clear and easy-to-understand young adult adaptation of the national bestseller that's perfect for this age of WikiLeaks, the Sony hack, and other events that reveal the extent to which our technology is never quite as secure as we want to believe. Coders and codebreakers alike will be fascinated by history's most mesmerizing stories of intrigue and cunning�from Julius Caesar and his Caeser cipher to the Allies' use of the Enigma machine to decode German messages during World War II. Accessible, compelling, and timely, The Code Book is sure to make readers see the past�and the future�in a whole new way. "Singh's power of explaining complex ideas is as dazzling as ever." �The Guardian.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member parelle
One of my favorite, if not my favorite non-fiction book. An easily accessible, non-mathmatical these on coding. And for the historian in me, lots of information on the people involved.
LibraryThing member euang
Insightful and interesting account of code-breaking.: Mr Singh provides a fantastically interesting and informative account of code-breaking and encryption throughout the ages. A great read even for anyone not interested in the subject.
LibraryThing member lmarin
I actually don't own this book but borrowed it from jmservat a while back. It is a fascinating and readable introduction to cryptography. I actually could not put it down!
At the end of the book there is also some alledgedly very difficult code to break and the author is (was?) offering a reward for
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whom could crack it.
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LibraryThing member miketroll
An extremely well-written and thorough account of the history of cryptography right up to the present day. It combines readability with a level of technical analysis that is not senselessly dumbed down for the lay reader. A riveting book.
LibraryThing member BrianDewey
Singh, Simon. The Code Book. Doubleday, New York, 1999. Reading about Cryptography continues. This is an excellent book. I already knew many of the stories at a high level. However, The Code Book does two things exceptionally well: it explains the intrigue behind many developments in cryptography,
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and it explains how the codes and the cryptanalysis works. I particularly like the explainations of how Enigma was cracked. Singh not only explains who was involved in the effort, but how they cracked Enigma.
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LibraryThing member billmcn
This is a thoroughly accessible account of the history of cryptography. Its coverage of the evolution of ever more sophisticated pre-twentieth century ciphers is particularly clear. The chapter on hieroglyphics seemed a bit of a digression to me but no doubt others enjoy it. There's a long section
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on the decoding of the Enigma machine, which is a treat for those of us enamored with the romance of Bletchley Park.
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LibraryThing member acrn
Incredibly intelligent and easy to read book. Singh's style is fresh, and believe, you can read this book in a couple of days. And then read it again.
LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
Much like how Mark Kurlansky makes a subject like salt interesting, Simon Singh makes all things code fascinating. From the very beginning The Code Book was informative and interesting. Peppered with photographs and diagrams, The Code Bookrecounted the events in history where the ability to break a
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code (or not) meant life or death. Beginning with Queen Mary of Scot's attempted plot to murder Queen Elizabeth on through the first and second World Wars. The only time I really got bogged down was, of course, when Singh would get a little too detailed with mathematical explanations of more difficult codes and ciphers.
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LibraryThing member lyzadanger
A totally consumable rampage through millennia of cryptographic techniques, nicely synthesized with historical vignettes and biographies of interesting folks. Especially compelling for the layperson is the linguistic/logical puzzle of secret writing before about WWI, when codebreaking coups
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involved graspable, but brilliant breakthroughs. The same technology that revolutionized life in the early 20th century also changed cryptography forever: now the problems have more of a mathematical (theory) and engineering (implementation) bent, though the true game-changers are still concepts that anyone can understand (and Singh almost flawlessly explains).

The only downside here is not the fault of the book--it was published in 1999 and is feeling dated. I found myself skimming the last 1/3 or so of the book, which focuses on computer encryption, concerned that I'd confuse myself (I'm a Web developer by trade) with respect to the encryption technologies I use now. I would pay Singh cold hard cash to release an updated version of this sui generis survey of this fascinating subject. I'd love to keep reading the story from where he left off.
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LibraryThing member CKmtl
An excellent introduction to cryptography, its history and evolution. It may not delve as deeply into the subject of modern encryption as some formal textbooks and scholarly works, but this is to be expected. This is a book for the curious layperson, not the established mathematician / computer
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Singh series of challenges is included, based on the approaches to cryptography detailed throughout the book. While I haven't attempted them (yet), they look to be an interesting opportunity to put theory into practice.
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LibraryThing member JohnMunsch
An interesting analysis of codes and ciphers. Both their making and breaking are discussed and placed well into historical context. A well written book that makes lots of cryptography that would likely be impenetrable to the average person simple enough to understand (or at least I thought so). I
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highly recommend this book as my only complaint about it was that it hadn't been revised to talk about more recent systems like elliptical curve encryption.
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LibraryThing member JBD1
A very good outline of codes and cryptography.
LibraryThing member melydia
A history of cryptography from ancient Egypt through quantum computing. My favorite parts were about WWII, with Turing and the Navajo Codetalkers. Some parts were a touch slow - cryptography isn't nearly as thrilling as the activities associated with it - but by and large it was an informative
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read. My only real complaint was how long it took me to read. Though Singh's text was thorough and readable as ever, it took me nearly a month to finish. I think I just wasn't in the right mood for a math book.
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LibraryThing member ashishg
An unputdownable story of evolution of coding and decoding methods with fascinating tales which changed the world and introduction to mind of geniuses who contributed to making and breaking ciphers. Interesting read for curious and mathematically inclined reader, with hints to making your own code
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language. Information about modern day cryptography which secures our internet connected world is just marvellous.
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LibraryThing member MusicalGlass
The subtitle of the book is The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography. Singh admits from the beginning that he is more concerned with ciphers than with codes, so we get an episodic history of the scrambling and unscrambling of secret messages, among contending royal houses
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in Britain and among European powers during the World Wars. Techniques become more sophisticated, as first machines then computers are enlisted in the quest for keeping and revealing secrets. The story of the Allies’ breaking of the Enigma code is well told here, as is the development of digitized public key cryptography that makes possible the transmission of private information over the Internet. In between Singh relates the work of linguists and archaeologists in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics and the Bronze Age language known as Linear B.

“Despite its strengths, the Navaho code still suffered from two significant flaws. First, words that were neither in the natural Navaho vocabulary nor in the list of 274 authorized codewords had to be spelled out using the special alphabet. This was time-consuming, so it was decided to add another 234 common terms to the lexicon. For example, nations were given Navaho nicknames: ‘Rolled Hat’ for Australia, ‘Bounded by Water’ for Britain, ‘Braided Hair’ for China, ‘Iron Hat’ for Germany, ‘Floating Land’ for the Philippines, and ‘Sheep Pain’ for Spain.”
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LibraryThing member Garp83
Some of us never gave codes more than a passing thought beyond the comedy of Ralphie Parker’s Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring in the movie A Christmas Story. Many of us never suspected that code-making and code-breaking have been such powerful forces in our own history, from the decipherment of
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ancient languages to the defeat of Nazi Germany to the development of the modern computer. An exhaustive study, yet never tedious, Singh’s talented prose transmits his own powerful fascination and enthusiasm for the theme to the reader, striking just the right balance in the challenge of coherently presenting the complexity of the subject while formulating its elucidation for a mass audience.
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LibraryThing member davidpwhelan
Simon Singh is a gifted writer and this is a terrific example of his work. Singh takes you through the history of cryptography and encipherment by looking first at the codemakers and then the codebreakers, turnabout, as encryption improved over centuries. The text is written in an engaging,
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story-oriented manner so even technical concepts are accessible. I have returned to this book for the enjoyment of reading it, even though I'm familiar now with the concepts he covers. It's a great resource for anyone interested in how current computer encryption works and how it evolved to its current state.
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LibraryThing member delphica
(#19 in the 2003 Book Challenge)

The author explains various code and cipher methods by examining famous codes throughout history, including the Mary Queen of Scots conspiracy, Enigma, and modern internet security. This is the kind of thing that I love, only I SUCK at math so I usually pick up books
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like this and then can't get through them. Even with this, I started skimming over the mathy parts, and then I said to myself "self, you're a reasonably bright person, let's just try reading them" and lo and behold, the author did an amazing job of explaining the theory behind the coding in such a way that any idiot off the street (that would be me) can understand the basic gist of it. It was a very good mix of light theory and interesting political/historical anecdotes.

Grade: A
Recommended: To people who think Godel, Esher, and Bach looks interesting, but can never make it past the second chapter.
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LibraryThing member BoPeep
Fascinating look at codes through history, with examples to test yourself on. I think I got as far as no.6(?) before giving up...
LibraryThing member mdubois
The urge to discover secrets is deeply ingrained in human nature; even the least curious mind is roused by the promise of sharing knowledge withheld from others. Some are fortunate enough to find a job which consists in the solution of mysteries, but most of us are driven to sublimate this urge by
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the solving of artificial puzzles devised for our entertainment. Detective stories or crossword puzzles cater for the majority; the solution of secret codes may be the pursuit of the few. John Chadwick. The Decipherment of Linear B.

109 182 6 11 88 214 74 77 153 177 109 195 76 37 188
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LibraryThing member scott.r
Useful introduction to ciphers and the people who have been making and breaking them for centuries. Engaging and educational, with just a tad too much technical detail (for my taste) in a few chapters. Entered my awareness through unrelated recommendations and proved on the mark. Makes me want to
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reread Cryptonomicon.
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LibraryThing member jeff.maynes
Simon Singh's book on the history of cryptography is a brilliant work of popular science and history. The aim of the book is to take us from the days of simple hidden messages, through the invention of increasingly complex substitution ciphers, modern codes and into the types of codes (and methods
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of breaking them) that we might see in the future. As someone with an interest and history and puzzles, this book was an absolute delight.

There are two things in particular that Singh does very well. First, he masterfully layers the increasingly complex codes one on top of the other. This allows him to take the time to explain each idea clearly, and then use the prior codes to introduce the new ones. It is easy to imagine an author losing the audience very quickly in a work like this. If one does not understand the notion of a 'key' in some of the earlier substitution ciphers, then the RSA encryption standard will be utterly incomprehensible. That is, even if the central idea of RSA was explained clearly, it still rests on the ideas that came before it. Losing the readers at any stage along the way could have resulted in an overly complicated second half.

Singh hits a pitch perfect pace. He typically provides an initial explanation of idea in cryptographic terms, before using simply toy analogies, before returning to the more complex explanation. As a result, the toy analogies are frequently illuminating (the reader knows what to look for). It was also never plodding. There was no point in the text where I found the ideas or explanations difficult to follow, and the questions I had were based on the subject matter, and not Singh's presentation of it. This is a book that any reader will learn a great deal from.

The second thing that Singh does very well is situate the codes historically. Each of these codes is tied to an interesting story - whether a treasure hunt or the execution of a monarch. Singh is able to weave these stories into the tale of the codes, which makes for compelling reading at two levels. I have a great interest in Turing in my professional work, and I was delighted to see his moving story recounted here. The high stakes of codebreaking adds a real sense of urgency to the more technical discussions covering the back and forth between codemakers and codebreakers to develop ever better codes.

Indeed, the only chapter that did not quite hold up to the same quality as the rest of the book was his coverage of the political debates surrounding encryption. It is indeed a really interesting issue whether encryption is a bastion of free speech, or a tool to enable illegal and violent acts. Singh wants to stay above the fray, and just outline the two positions. All we end up getting is a rather simple overview of the conflict. This is a philosophical and moral question, and requires a different approach. Indeed, I would have preferred Singh to take a stance on the question. It would have helped him get into the details of the arguments, which would have been more illuminating (even if the reader disagrees) than the "one side says x, one says x" approach he adopts.

Despite my quibbles with this chapter, I found this to be an admirable work of pop science and history. Singh tells a fascinating story in a way that does not oversimplify. At the same time, he is able to explain the subject matter clearly. Any reader with an interest in history, puzzles or codes will find a lot to enjoy in The Code Book.
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LibraryThing member passion4reading
Simon Singh provides the reader with an overview of the history of cryptology and brings to the reader's attention events in history that would probably have had different outcomes had it not been for the achievements of some historical figures - mostly unknown to us today - like Thomas Phelippes
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who deciphered and forged an encrypted message to Mary, Queen of Scots, thereby forcing her to effectively sign her own death warrant, and Marian Rejewski who provided the groundwork on deciphering the Enigma machine before handing his research over to the British; his enthusiasm for the subject shines through at every page. He also aims to set the record straight for a few unsung heroes, mainly from recent history who, due to the secrecy act, were forbidden from publicly claiming credit for their work in cryptology at the time. Most notably amongst them is Alan Turing who helped crack the Enigma cipher, but also Tommy Flowers who single-handedly built Colossus, the precursor to the modern digital computer but who had to destroy the blueprints after the war, as well as Clifford Cocks and Malcolm Williamson who invented the asymmetric cipher and public-key cryptography four years before the Americans but were sworn to secrecy. I also enjoyed his brief foray into the decipherment of ancient texts like the Egyptian hieroglyphics and the Minoan script of Linear B, but Simon Singh's main achievement lies in his ability to bring across such tricky issues like key distribution, public-key cryptography and quantum cryptography in a simple and lucid manner to a mainly non-technically minded person like me. My only criticism and one that has got nothing to do with the author, is the fact that this book was written more than ten years ago when e-commerce was still in its infancy; since then the world has seen a massive leap in terms of financial transactions being conducted over the internet and even seen the arrival of internet banking and with it the need for ever better security for the individual and companies trading over the internet. I would be most interested to read a topical update in which he covers the last ten years and the impact this has had on cryptography.
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LibraryThing member Julia_Hughes
Outstanding; this history of codes, and the part codes have played in history, and continue to play in everyday life enthralled even a lay person like me. Mr Singh has authored a non-fiction book that reads like a thrilling mystery.
LibraryThing member Melissarochell
I was really excited to read it, but it turned out to be same things I've seen in documentaries. Then again, what else should I have expected? Being obsessed with Egyptology, I did very much enjoy that really short chapter.


LA Times Book Prize (Finalist — Science & Technology — 1999)


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Physical description

426 p.; 24 cm


9113007084 / 9789113007083
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