A fascinating glimpse into the world of ciphers, codes, and secrets. It works equally well as a primer for the novice and as a reference for the enthusiast. Nznmvat!
Raph Koster, author of the bestselling A Theory of Fun
I have been a creator and solver of puzzles both virtual and physical my whole life, I even gave my wife a GPS-enabled puzzle box as a wedding present to lead her to our honeymoon. That being said, I could hardly imagine even approaching the problems Elonka Dunin and Klaus Schmeh have tackled. Fortunately for my ego, there remain a few even Elonka has not yet solved. However, if you wish to start down the rabbit hole, there is no better place to start than Codebreaking: A Practical Guide. I even hear that there are a few other hidden secrets embedded in this book! Good luck!
Richard Garriott, computer gaming pioneer (“Lord British”, Ultima Online) & private astronaut
As an author of crypto books and a crypto blog, I regularly get requests to solve encrypted postcards. Then, it is not easy to find appropriate help on my bookshelf. While cryptology fans have become gradually spoiled by informative books and journal articles on various historical ciphers and codes, practical methods of codebreaking – and I do not mean the sophisticated computer algorithms – are rarely published on an easily accessible level.
This book is one of the rare exceptions. It is amateur friendly, up to date, and offers pencil-and paper methods, easy to grasp even by non-professional codebreakers without special mathematical skills, to detect and break cryptograms. It systematically surveys the main encryption methods in a fresh way. What I love in the book is its approach. The specific methods are not demonstrated by the well-known textbook examples, rather by (often unknown) real life cases, such as 19th century newspaper ads, prison messages and civil war diaries, encrypted journals and even everyday objects, such as a mug from a museum gift shop. With its lovely codebreaking demonstrations, this book is a real starting manual for any crypto novice.
Benedek Láng, Chair of Philosophy and History of Science Department, Budapest University of Technology and Economics
A comprehensive, yet accessible, resource for a contemporary understanding of the past and present of codebreaking. The kind of resource that is useful for beginners, yet encyclopedic for more experienced readers.
Lindsay Grace, Knight Chair of Interactive Media, University of Miami, School of Communication
As a long-time writer and speaker on codes and ciphers, Elonka Dunin knows her stuff. Together with co-author Klaus Schmeh, she put together a practical and engaging guide to codes and ciphers that have been used throughout the last several centuries, long before computers were available to aid the process. As a major hint to would-be codebreakers, the story behind the code is often as important and compelling as a code itself, and Dunin and Schmeh never fail to deliver with each code they examine. Enjoy, and happy codebreaking!
Scott M. Jones, Director, Electronic Frontiers Forums track at Dragon Con, Atlanta
Best suited for those who want to read about codebreaking with actual examples. Many specimens with images, ranging from encrypted postcards to historical messages, are conveniently classified in chapters and their solutions are explained.
Satoshi Tomokiyo, webmaster of “Cryptiana: Articles on Historical Cryptography”
A book with many interesting stories behind real historic cryptograms. These are clustered according to the ciphers behind. And the best thing: You are introduced to free and modern software to break them yourself.
Bernhard Esslinger, Professor at University of Siegen for Applied Cryptography
Cryptography can seem like a daunting subject, but in this book Elonka and Klaus have made it understandable, approachable, and most of all: fun! Filled with many real-world examples of the use of classical cryptography techniques, the book successfully conveys the authors’ contagious passion for the art of uncovering hidden messages. There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of applying the skills described in this book to unlock the mysterious secret messages. After reading this book you will be equipped with many tools to help you do it, too!
Dave Oranchak, founder of ZodiacKillerCiphers.com and host of Let’s Crack Zodiac
Dunin and Schmeh, two internationally known experts on cryptology, show you step by step how to crack codes and ciphers from before the earliest radio transmissions to the world of contemporary computing.
Peter Krapp, Professor of Media Studies and Informatics, University of California, Irvine
Throw Your Other Books Away. Codebreaking goes well beyond the “how” by including historical examples, practical attacks, and challenges to solve. This high-quality cryptography resource is all you need to truly understand many ciphers.
Tyler Akins, Developer, Cipher Tools
A cipher is a delicate balance. On the one hand, you want a system that is complex enough to evade prying eyes. On the other hand, you want your message to reach its intended reader without difficulty. Consider this an introductory textbook on ciphers and codebreaking. Elonka Dunin and Klaus Schmeh take a fresh approach to the art of codebreaking with an extensive look at some of the most famous ciphers in history (both cracked and uncracked). Each chapter details a new cipher technique while stressing the craft’s terminology, and each historical example comes with a complete backstory. The reader will learn how to use each cipher as well as the best approaches when attempting to attack an uncracked cipher with a step-by-step guide. Computer software is often required to crack the most robust ciphers. Still, the reader will have a better understanding of how these applications operate with complete descriptions of the relevant algorithms, such as hill climbing and dictionary attacks, in layman’s terms. This book treats each cipher as a mystery waiting and wanting to be solved and eagerly invites the reader to share in the excitement of cracking ciphers.
Dr. James Church, Associate Professor at Austin Peay State University, author of “Learning Haskell Data Analysis”
Strongly recommended for anyone interested in historical ciphers. There are very few books dedicated specifically to the breaking of classical ciphers, with the best known still the 1939 book Cryptanalysis by Helen Fouché Gaines. This new book fills that gap, covering a large number of things never envisioned by Gaines; including hill climbing, the best known contemporary algorithm for breaking ciphers. There are plenty of practical examples and real-world success stories.
Paolo Bonavoglia (ret), teacher of mathematics, Convitto Nazionale Marco Foscarini, Venezia, Italy
This book will take you on an amazing journey through an incredible maze. Exciting!
David Lucas, award-winning composer, discoverer of “Blue Oyster Cult”, the cowbell guy!
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