cryptography book question
March 16, 2008 10:52 PM   Subscribe

Help me find this cryptography book...

I remember reading a history of cryptography. One story it told was about a guy who was looking for a book about WW2 codes, which had been printed, then recalled and destroyed. He found a copy in a library, drove there and made a copy.

So, the questions are:

Where would I have read this story?

Who was the guy?

What was the book?

Is it on-line?

I know Stephenson had a version of this in "Cryptonomicon," but that's not what I mean.
posted by Marky to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Could it have been The Code Breakers or The Puzzle Palace?
posted by hattifattener at 10:57 PM on March 16, 2008

Part of the movie Zodiac involved cartoonist Robert Graysmith researching WW2 code books which might have influenced serial killer Zodiac's code scheme. They found some of the books stolen from libraries in the area, one theory being the killer wanted to cover his tracks.
posted by sharkfu at 11:06 PM on March 16, 2008

That story is not in "The Codebreakers". I've read that book four times and don't remember any such incident mentioned in it.
posted by Class Goat at 11:45 PM on March 16, 2008

Best answer: This sounds like the story: John Gilmore finding two volumes of Lieut. Col. William F. Friedman's book published during World War II (NY Times). Don't know what book it's in, though.
posted by steef at 5:29 AM on March 17, 2008

The story is vaguely familiar, and the only full length book on the subject I've read is Steven Levy's Crypto. Those two facts could be related, I suppose.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:51 AM on March 17, 2008

The Gilmore/Friedman anecdote does appear in Crypto. I followed ^Lentrohamsanin's link and did a "Search Inside" (p. 208-209).

Here's a list of Friedman's works on WorldCat. Looks like he wrote some interesting stuff on the use of codes and cyphers in Poe, Verne, and Chaucer. I think Military Cryptanalysis (1939-1943) is the four-volume set in question.
posted by steef at 7:34 AM on March 17, 2008

Another possibility, Singh's The Code Book
posted by phearlez at 9:24 AM on March 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I think the book was "Crypto," only my library can confirm.

NY Times article was spot on, thanks!
posted by Marky at 9:45 PM on March 17, 2008

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