The Code Book by Simon Singh
Finished reading on November 24, 2012
This is the best book I’ve read in 2012. It’s interesting to the level where you’re reading with your jaw dropped to about your knees if you’re tall, and if you’re me, then to the ground (no logic necessary).
The topics in this book are not something that I would originally have considered interesting, but rather “cute”.
Singh starts out with some simple cryptographic devices and codes, and examples of their historical usages and evolution. The book ends with quantum and public key cryptography.
There’s also a really fascinating detour into translating long dead languages by using same methods as for cracking codes. Even if you’re not at all into codes and such, but you happen across this book, I’d highly recommend reading the chapter that deals with Egyptian hieroglyphs (translating the rosetta stone!) and Linear B.
Reading it made me want to encrypt some of my communications, just as when reading about Leonardo Da Vinci, I learned mirror writing.
One of the reasons, why The Code Book gets such a high rating from me, is simply because similarly to physics, you have mysteries, for which you’re trying to find answers, in physics the questions arise from the nature of the universe, in cryptography it’s mostly human nature and language combined with statistics and mathematics.
Another one’s the fact that it’s one of those books that makes you want to find out more about the topics covered (or hidden ;)).