Book Reviews

Book Review; “Cryptonomicon” by Neal Stephenson, copyright 1999

I didn’t want “Cryptonomicon” to finish. I was into the story or stories enough that even after 1100 plus pages I was ready for more. Suggested by a friend, that I consider one of the most intelligent people I have known, I was a little apprehensive of the author Neal Stephenson. I thought that maybe I was getting in “over my head” and wouldn’t be able to comprehend the story line. That was not a problem.

“Cryptonomicon” follows a couple of families, Waterhouse and Shaftoe. It begins with Bobby Shaftoe, a commons sense, “Gung Ho”, Marine, and his exploits, before and during WWII in the Pacific Theater. Then the story switches to Lawrence Waterhouse, considered a slow learner until he helps with a pipe organ restoration. Lawrence , it is discovered has a mathematical brain, and through a scholarship enters Princeton and meets others with the same abilities.

The book then moves to the near present and Lawrence Waterhouse’s grandson, Randy. Randy would be considered a “geek”. Someone that would lock himself in for long periods of time and write code for computers. Socially inept, but a wizard with a computer. Through a business endeavor Randy meets Douglas MacArthur Shaftoe and eventually his daughter America Shaftoe. There are plenty of other characters that make up the entire work of “Cryptonomicon” but these were my favorites.

Throw in World War II adventures, treasure hunts, government baddies, extremely smart people, and smart people who don’t realize they are, put them all together and you wind up with a book that held my interest throughout.

There were a few parts of the book that I had to read over or real slow due to the mathematical content, not one of my best subjects. But even with the equations and theory I was able to understand that this is how some people’s brains work. One person can do complicated mathematics in his head while having a conversation and riding bikes with friends of similar backgrounds, but, put the same person amongst people with different mind sets and the person is socially backward. Most everyone has had this happen to themselves at some point.

I will definitely read other books by Neil Stephenson.

Next up; “Maisie Dobbs” by Jacqueline Winspear, talk about a 180 degree turn about.

Until next time, we are getting everything ready for our “Great Loop” adventure, and getting close to our scheduled departure dates. Our days are spent doing final preparations along with everyday wants and needs. I’m sure that we will have some surprises but we are ready to get moving. We will keep you informed on our travels.



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