by Neal Stephenson
Avon Books, New York, 1999
It was almost spooky to turn the last page of Cryptonomicon, and then find a newspaper article, with clandestine video, of a stranded nuclear submarine in the headlines of the ITH. It only goes to show how realistic the setting of the novel is, even though the central theme is that of things hidden.
For this novel none of the praise of all the reviews mentioned in the cover is too high. It is a fabulous read, and I could readily identify with the characters, and the lure of a good challenge. More than a thousands pages trail through jungles, ocean floors, lines of computer code and the basics of good cryptography.
I had never put much thought to late WWII movements of bullion across the world, but it makes perfect sense that this has happened. Stephenson has excelled in creating story lines about war wealth and wealth creation and bankruptcy and presents them like intertwining lianas in a forest of history. To his credit he manages to end the story in a satisfying way.
And through the story there is loads and loads of fun facts and trivia about computer history. And it leaves me trying to imagine the era when computers still sat behind their desks and drank coffee in the morning.