Saturday, March 31, 2012

Geek Book Porn #3 (The Codebreakers)

The pictures below are of the front cover, spine and back cover of a first edition copy of David Kahn's 1967 book "The Codebreakers". This is THE pioneering book about the history and principles of cryptology, which made them available to ordinary longer reserved for the purposes of government.

I found this book in a neighborhood bookstore about 10 years ago. Also have the updated version in eBook form, covering modern inventions such as public key cryptography.

Take a moment and look at the bottom picture, the rear cover table of gives a good idea of the rich awesomeness of this book. The history of cryptology and secret messages has been a rich and fascinating one, with some succeeding due to strong secret messages (e.g., the US's Navajo code talkers in World War 2) and death and ruin caused when secret communication is broken:

  • Mary, Queen of Scots, doomed to execution because her secret message was broken by Queen Elizabeth's agents
  • The Zimmerman Telegram, captured and broken by intrepid Britons, Helping to bring America into world War 1.
  • Breaking the German Enigma allows the reading of German military communications during World War 2.
  • US victory at Midway and the assassination of Admiral Yamamoto allowed by the breaking of Japanese cyphers

This book is also one of the first publications ever to mention the National Security Agency and it is one that they tried to suppress. Wikipedia link

Geek Book Porn #2 (history, English language)

Various views from:

"The Grandest Century in the World's History" published 1900. Looks at the 19th Century in detail (exploration, invention, etc)

"The American Pageant" published 1956.

"The Development of English Literature and Language" 1882.

(Teaser for the Codebreakers)

Geek Book Porn #1 (Hidden Treasures)

We've had a discussion of cool older books on Twitter today, so I'm posting up some pictures of some of my coolest old books and some of their stories.

Hidden Treasures is a book published in 1887, with the purpose of presenting role models for success to young people just starting out. There's a neat inscription on the inside from a father to his son.

(Purchased by me for $4 at an antique store in a church in Ransomville, NY)