The Story of Codes  by Stephen Pincock & Mark Frary

The Story of Codes by Stephen Pincock & Mark Frary

As long as humans have been plotting amongst one another there must have been demand for 'codes' to keep the communications to a select few “In the Know”.

“The story of Codes” is a fascinating insight into those codes over the millennia, although I wouldn't have fancied being the cipher clerk in Mesopotamia, one slip with the chisel & you'd be starting again ... Stephen Pincock & Mark Frary have collected a lot of interesting detail together and presented it in an eminently readable form, including lots of examples to help the reader work out how it was done instead of just a dry, boring presentation.

It's just a small criticism, but I was disappointed the authors didn't give a little more detail on how people like Samuel Morse arrived at his famous code, Alfred Vail IS mentioned in the book as his assistant, but he gets very little credit for his contribution which was very important.

Similarly, Charles Babbage was a towering figure, aided in no small way by Ada Lovelace – she doesn't merit a mention in the book, which is not going to amuse the feminists …

On a modern level, quantum-level indecipherability, based on the current limits of mathematics in all honesty gave me brain ache – with the amount of modern digital communication it's obviously essential, but I may give up enciphering the shopping/laundry list!

The sheer amount of interesting details which are mentioned – Mary, Queen of Scots, Julius Caesar, Enigma variations, and Bletchley Park – to mention a few, the list really is endlessly fascinating, contributing to an excellent read.

Taken as a whole, I found it excellent and it's one I shall happily go back to a lot – definitely one to keep!

Heartily recommended, with 4 anchor rating.

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