The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-breaking

Simon Singh

From the bestselling author of ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’, ‘The Code Book’ is an enthralling history of codes and code-breaking from Egyptian puzzles to modern-day computer encryptions.

Since humans began writing, they have been writing in code. This quest for secrecy has often changed the course of history. In ‘The Code Book’, Simon Singh offers a sweeping view of the subject of encryption as well as its more dramatic effects on the outcome of wars, monarchies and individual lives. Included in this fascinating book is the story of Mary Queen of Scots, trapped by her own code and put to death by Queen Elizabeth. Also recounted is the history of the Beale Ciphers, created in the early 19th-century to obscure the location of a treasure in gold, buried somewhere in Virginia. Singh also traces the monumental improvements in code-making and -breaking brought on by World Wars I and II, the outcomes of which could have been very different without the brilliance of the Allied code breakers. Now, in the Information Age, the possibility of a truly unbreakable code looms large and cryptography has become one of the major debates of our times. Simon Singh investigates the challenges to personal privacy that technology and the ways we communicate today have upon everyday lives. Dramatic, compelling, and remarkably far reaching, this is a book that will forever alter your view of history, what drives it, and how private that email you just sent really is.

Reviews of The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-breaking

    • ‘A fascinating meander through the centuries; replete with tales of intrigue, political chicanery, military secrecy and academic rivalry.’ The Times