Welcome to Villa Speranza.

Welcome to Villa Speranza.

Search This Blog

Translate

Monday, January 26, 2015

Turing and Grice

Speranza

So, how Griceian is this new film about Turing?

One of the few books on my 'keep forever' list,
     
Without this book, the real Alan Turing might fade into obscurity or at least the easy caricature of an eccentric English mathematician.

And to the relief of many, because Turing was a difficult person: an unapologetic homosexual in post-victorian England; ground-breaking mathematician; utterly indifferent to social conventions; arrogantly original (working from first principles, ignoring precedents); with no respect for professional boundaries (a 'pure' mathematician who taught himself engineering and electronics).

His best-known work is his 1936 'Computable Numbers' paper, defining a self-modifying, stored-program machine.

He used these ideas to help build code-breaking methods and machinery at Bletchley, England's WWII electronic intelligence center.

This work, much still classified today, led directly to the construction of the world's first stored-program, self-modifying computer, in 1948.

Computers were always symbol-manipulators to Alan, not 'number crunchers', the predominant view even to von Neumann, and into the 60's and 70's.

He designed many basic software concepts (interpreter, floating point), most of which were ignored (he umm wasn't exactly good at promoting his ideas).

By 1948 Alan had moved on to studying human and machine intelligence, as a user of computers, again with his lack of social niceties and radical thinking, some of his ideas were baffling or embarrassing until 'rediscovered' decades later as brilliant insights into intelligence.

His 'Turing test' of intelligence dates from this period, and is still widely misunderstood.

Poor Alan; his refusal to deceive himself or others and "go along" with the conventions of the time regarding sexuality caused him (and other homosexuals then) great problems; early Cold War England was not a good time to be gay, or a misfit, especially one with deep knowledge of war-time secrecy (he was technical crypto liason to the U.S., and one of the few with broad knowledge of operations at Bletchley, since he defined so much of it, in a time of extreme compartmentalization).

His sexual escapades eventually got him in trouble, and his increasing isolation and the fact that he simply couldn't acknowledge some of his life's work due to secrecy, probably influenced his suicide at the age of 42.

I first discovered Turing-the-person in A HISTORY OF COMPUTING IN THE 20TH CENTURY (Metropolis, Howlett, Gian-Carlo Rota; Acedemic Press, 1980), where I.J. Good wrote, "we didn't know he was a homosexual until after the war... if the security people had found out [and removed him]... we might have lost the war".

This led me to look for books on Turing, and then the Hodges book magically appeared on the shelf.

I am grateful that Hodges researched his life as well as his work, as far as the data allows. Knowing the whole is always important, but I think critical in Alan Turing's life.

My only complaint with the book is that it makes a number of assumptions or implications that seem to require knowledge of British culture, both contemporary and of the period, which I still didn't pick up on a re-reading. But it barely detracts from the book.

Clearly, I rate this one of the most important books I've ever read.



         The Classic Biography of the Computer's Progenitor, October 24, 2000      
 
It is a pleasure to see that the wonderful biography of Alan Turing by Andrew Hodges is once again available.

With loving care, Hodges follows Turing's life from the clumsy child whose largely absentee parents were caught up in maintaining the British imperial presence in India, to the mathematically precocious adolescent facing teachers for whom mathematics imparted a bad smell to a room, finally coming into his own at Cambridge University where he wrote the paper that provided the conceptual underpinnings of the all-purpose computers we all use today.

Hodges carefully explains Turing's crucial contributions to breaking the secret codes that the German military used all through the Second World War, confident in the security provided by their "Enigma" machines. Turing's highly successful war-time practical work known only to a few, his efforts after the war to enable the construction of a general purpose electronic computer were frustrated by bureaucratic mismanagement and by a lack of appreciation of the value of his ideas, many of which came to the fore much later.

A burglary of his house that a prudent man would have kept to himself, led to Turing's homosexuality coming to official notice when Turing himself reported the crime to the police.

He was prosecuted for "gross indecency" and sentenced to a course of injections of estrogen intended to diminish his sex drive.

We will never know how much this barbaric treatment contributed to his suicide or what he might have accomplished had his life not been cut short. This is a book that will fascinate readers interested in the history of the computer, in the story of how the German submarine fleet threatening to strangle England was defeated, and in the tragic story of the persecution for his sex life of a man who should have been prized as a national hero.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


90 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important books I've ever read, February 17, 2001
By 
Without this book, the real Alan Turing might fade into obscurity or at least the easy caricature of an eccentric British mathematician. And to the relief of many, because Turing was a difficult person: an unapologetic homosexual in post-victorian england; ground-breaking mathematician; utterly indifferent to social conventions; arrogantly original (working from first principles, ignoring precedents); with no respect for professional boundaries (a 'pure' mathematician who taught himself engineering and electronics).
His best-known work is his 1936 'Computable Numbers' paper, defining a self-modifying, stored-program machine. He used these ideas to help build code-breaking methods and machinery at Bletchley Park, England's WWII electronic intelligence center. This work, much still classified today, led directly to the construction of the world's first stored-program, self-modifying computer, in 1948.
Computers were always symbol-manipulators, to Alan, not 'number crunchers', the predominant view even to von Neumann, and into the 60's and 70's. He designed many basic software concepts (interpreter, floating point), most of which were ignored (he wasn't exactly good at promoting his ideas). By 1948 Alan had moved on to studying human and machine intelligence, as a user of computers, again with his lack of social niceties and radical thinking, some of his ideas were baffling or embarrassing until 'rediscovered' decades later as brilliant insights into intelligence. His 'Turing test' of intelligence dates from this period, and is still widely misunderstood.
Poor Alan; his refusal to deceive himself or others and "go along" with the conventions of the time regarding sexuality caused him (and other homosexuals then) great problems; early Cold War England was not a good time to be gay, or a misfit, especially one with deep knowledge of war-time secrecy (he was technical crypto liason to the U.S., and one of the few with broad knowledge of operations at Bletchley, since he defined so much of it, in a time of extreme compartmentalization). His sexual escapades eventually got him in trouble, and his increasing isolation and the fact that he simply couldn't acknowledge some of his life's work due to secrecy, probably influenced his suicide at the age of 42.
I first discovered Turing-the-person in A HISTORY OF COMPUTING IN THE 20TH CENTURY (Metropolis, Howlett, Gian-Carlo Rota; Acedemic Press, 1980), where I.J. Good wrote, "we didn't know he was a homosexual until after the war... if the security people had found out [and removed him]... we might have lost the war". This led me to look for books on Turing, and then the Hodges book magically appeared on the shelf.
I am grateful that Hodges researched his life as well as his work, as far as the data allows. Knowing the whole is always important, but I think critical in Alan Turing's life. Clearly, I rate this one of the most important books I've ever read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive biography of an uncommonly interesting subject, January 18, 2001
By 
One could make the case that Alan Turing was neglected by the historians of science because much of his most important work was kept secret.

 One could also make the case that Turing's relatively open homosexuality, culminating in conflict with the law, led to some reluctance among biographers.

There would be some truth to either claim, but it seems to me that the main reason why Turing has been ill treated by historians is simply that he was a half-century ahead of his time, and that only now is the significance of his work becoming generally understood.

The turning point in the greatly increased appreciation for Turning was the publication of this biography by Hodges, originally in 1983. Lapsing out of print until recently, it would be no exaggeration to say that this book sparked a widespread reappraisal of Turing in an age more able to understand him, both professionally and personally. (It would be difficult, for example, to cite any other scientific biography which inspired a play that was performed in London and on Broadway in New York: "Breaking the Code," written by Hugh Whitemore in 1988, and which was made into a 1997 television play that is available on VHS.) It is difficult to imagine that this biography will be allowed to go out of print again.
Turing's key contribution to computer science was in realizing that computers are not merely number crunchers, but were capable of manipulating general purpose symbols. Certainly, it is natural to represent numbers with symbols inside computing machines, especially because there is such a universally accepted habit of working number symbols with pen and paper. In achieving this critical insight that the symbols inside computers are perfectly general, Turing tied computer science into a large body of traditional work in mathematics reaching back centuries to the work of Leibniz and encompassing the more recent work of such logicians as Boole, Frege, Russell, and Godel. Less widely understood is that it is this same general purpose representational characteristic of computers which has made possible the applications of computers which matter to people, from e-mail and the web to digital music and the little box that decides whether to deploy the airbag in your car.
Contemporaries of Turing tended to see the computer as a sort of automatic adding machine, suitable for calculating ballistics tables and little else. Yet Turing had completed most of the underpinning for his Theory of Computation before the onset of the Second World War, when he was called upon to build a secret computer for cryptanalytic purposes. The very fact that Turing wondered how to decide if a machine could be said to "think," which was the subject of his famous "Turing Test," was itself a revolutionary idea, the question being more significant at the time than any answer.
To a large extent, the ideas first articulated by Turing, regardless of how directly or indirectly their influence has been felt, are at the root of a changed perception of the world which we now all share at the beginning of the 21st Century. This view of the world as a kind of computer has replaced the industrial era view of the world as a kind of clockwork machine. We are all, in effect, on a quest to find out which propositions are "computable" and "decidable."
Combined with this substantial reassessment of Turing's professional contributions, there has been an enormous change in the way British and American society have come to perceive homosexuality. Viewed as a psychological disease and a criminal act at the time of Turing's difficulties with the law, Britain would decriminalize private consensual homosexual relations a few years after his death and begin recognizing a civil liberties interest emerging at about the time of the initial publication of Hodges' book. This gulf of decades has come to reinforce a view of Turing as a man very much outside of his own time, almost constitutionally incapable of thinking as convention would dictate about anything at all.
It is a great irony that the Allied war effort -- and perhaps the Cold War effort -- could not abide a man whom it viewed as a security risk, despite the undeniable fact that his work at a minimum saved a great many lives and quite probably shortened the war. Indeed, it is a great tragedy that the democratic state he helped to save then turned and ungratefully persecuted him, likely driving him to his death.
Few scientific biographies possess the massive sweep of human drama in the crucible of history, and few biographical subjects warrant such treatment. Turing and his definitive biography by Hodges are emphatic exceptions.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 


24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of incredible triumph and terrible tragedy, January 9, 2002
By 
This is a book that should be read by anyone with an interest in the history of mathematics, computer science or the second world war.

Alan Turing, the inventor of the abstract Turing machine, was an incredible individual who is still underappreciated for his accomplishments. The Turing machine is an abstract device that "consists" of an infinite paper tape and a read head that can move forwards and backwards altering what is on the tape. However, despite its' simplicity, so far it has been found to be a model for all aspects of computing. It may prove to be a model for all actions that can be performed by a computer, but that problem is as yet unsolved. It is amazing that he invented it before computers as we know them really existed.
However, his most significant accomplishment was as a principal of the British group who broke the "unbreakable" German codes during the second world war. When people speak about how the British prevailed in that war, the first person mentioned is always Winston Churchill and there is no question that he did more than anyone else to lead them to victory. However, given the limited resources the British had compared to the Germans, the precise knowledge of German intentions allowed the British to concentrate those resources so that they could achieve local superiority. Which was the only way they could win some of the battles. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that Turing's contribution to victory ranks as high as that of anyone else other than Churchill. That story alone would have been a fascinating tale, and although we may not be getting the whole story, it is complete enough to understand how valuable his contribution was. That portion of the book is very well done and worthy of being read by anyone interested in how the British managed to hang on long enough for the United States to enter the war.

Unfortunately, Turing came to a tragic end, apparently dying by his own hand after it became known that he was a homosexual.

This was after the war and despite his amazing talents and previous contributions, his homosexuality caused him to be branded as a security risk.

The cold war was just starting, with the increase in paranoia and baseless accusations.

It is very saddening to read about how this incredible genius was hounded to destruction by agents of a nation that owed him so much.

A tale of incredible triumph followed by disturbing tragedy, this is one of the most interesting biographies ever written. Genius is often misunderstood, but it is rarely hounded to destruction. It happened to Alan Turing and this book contains lessons about what can go wrong when people are judged by stereotypes. Given some of the debates that have occurred in the U.S. military recently, it is a lesson that has not yet been completely learned.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We can learn and prevail, July 1, 2012
By 
G. Tomer (Old Town, ME United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Alan Turing: The Enigma The Centenary Edition

Andrew Hodges is a scientist who wrote a triumph of love and genius: about a young man who's unique insight and unmeasured abilities found solutions that lead us to computers in 1936. But, there's more - Turing's solution found immediate approval from the great Kurt Godel. These talented young men tore mathematics from the breast of philosophy and threw it onto the floor of humanity's aspirations and dreams. The center of mathematics transferred from Germany to Princeton's Institute of Advanced Study; and when the pre-eminent Albert Einstein left Europe for the IAS, physics became an American prize.

As the Nazi political party became the German government, Turing was studying for his Ph.D. at Princeton with Alonzo Church and his two close associates, S.C. Kleene and J. Barkley Rosser. However, Turing realized the threat to England would culminate in war. Despite an offer to work with his childhood idol J. von Neumann, Turing returned to England in time to join "Foreign Service" at Bletchley Park. Hodges pace is a marathon: Turing was a marathon runner who nearly competed for his country in the 1949 Olympics. Writers who have continued the mythology of Turing's various ills and shortcomings must read the research efforts of Mr. Hodges. He presents Turing as he was known and witnessed by his friends, associates, detractors, and his competitors.

Anyone interested in knowing or understanding computer science, mathematics, and the actual history of the genius who created the foundations of the internet and modern computer theory should spend some time reading Hodges and his ponderous study of Alan Mathison Turing. The Enigma is written for serious believers in humanity and miracles - and the failure of the world to recognize real heroes. Without knowing Alan Turing, we cannot appreciate today's freedoms. Turing and Bletchley Park were evenly portrayed: as a collective, BP was the hope of a free world. BP was comprised by true-believers from England and the Commonwealth, the Middle East, Poland, and America. Over 80% were women and they played vital roles. A high percentage in BP relative to a low percentage in England's total population were Jewish. Read the book and learn from the best! When you analyze the actual devices of Engima and Lorenz created by German armed forces and scientists, it seems improbable that anyone could break the code.

Nearly all of the WWII codebreakers are gone. Yet, their dedication to prevail ultimately allowed the Allied forces to have a D-day, and previously helped the English and American forces in North Africa to defeat the great Rommel. Without the codebreakers, the war would have lasted another two years (by some estimates) and the death toll even higher. Turing's story is not unique, not as an Englishman, nor as a human. Every codebreaker in their huts had stories... What makes Turing different was his ability to continue toward solutions when others failed. Unfortunate for the world: England refused to honor him; and violated his rights when their government prosecuted him as a criminal. Turing's refusal to demean his humanity, or to yield under the forces of conformity, was magnificant - far greater than his genius. We have heard the apology: when his name is cleared of supposed wrongdoing, remains our burden. Only Andrew Hodges could possibly bring these thoughts any reality. Perhaps we can learn more about each other by listening to Hodges.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 


45 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Turing Explained - Turing Hijacked, June 20, 2002
By 
Alan Turing makes an absolutely fascinating subject for biography. Not only did Turing significantly contributed to the allied victory in World War II, but one may also consider him to be the father of the modern "thinking machine." Indeed, most introductory computer textbooks still contain references to the "Turing test" for artificial intelligence.
In Part 1, Hodges writes a riveting account of Turing's youth, scientific pursuits, and war-time contributions. He carefully details descriptions of the German "Enigma" coding machine, coding theory, and the code breaking process. Having no significant background in mathematics or ciphering, the reader could probably build his or her own Enigma machine based solely on Hodge's lucid descriptions.
Unfortunately, Part 2 does more to promote Hodges' own agenda than it does to illuminate Turing's life. Hodges makes his agenda clear for Turing's biography following the Postscript in a section labeled "Author's Note from the 1983 Edition." In this, Hodges explains that he discovered Turing for himself while preparing a pamphlet critical of the current medical model of homosexuality as member of London's Gay Liberation Front (535). Part 2 of this biography clearly serves as a platform for that purpose.

While generally dull, Part 2 did offer a few surprises.

Though not stated explicitly, Hodges' illustrations demonstrate that the premise behind "Clockwork Orange" finds its roots in the state of England's psychiatric medicine in the 1950's. Imprisonment, castration, hormone therapy, operant conditioning, and psychiatric treatment all played a part in the West's attempts to understand and cope with the nature of homosexuality and the male homosexual's role in society.

Since Turing himself did not crusade for gay rights or take any interest in the rather well known intellectual gay communities of the time, the author's agenda appears significantly out of place.

Though persecuted, prosecuted, convicted, and "treated," Turing simply wished to be left alone to pursue his various interests. Hodges should have done the same.

Yes, details of Turing's relationships, lifestyle, arrest, trial, and treatment belong in a biography along with their historical context, but Hodges frequently departs with obscure references and musings many readers might not understand and which were simply not part of Turing's own experience.

This biography also left me craving more details regarding the links between Turing's early work and his later work as well as for more details specifically about his later work.

  I don't think Turing simply changed fields of interest mid career. After all, buried within the mechanics of nature lie the seeds of non-artificial intelligence. What better way to recreate that intelligence artificially than by mastering and modeling the original?

I recommend special treatment for this biography. Rather than bullying your way through every page, simply start reading from the beginning, stop when you lose interest, and don't feel guilty about putting it down incomplete.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than average biography / exposition of Turing's work, January 10, 1998
By A Customer
Overall an enjoyable book with sensitive treatment of Turing's lifestyle. Whilst the exposition of Turing's earlier work is well structured that of the later years is somewhat less detailed. The closing chapters are less than satisfying, however this may be due to the tradegy of Turing's death. An excellent introduction to the concept of the "Turing Machine".
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars and very fine detail of the time and society in which Alan ..., November 9, 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I got through “The Enigma” only recently. When I say I “got through” I mean it. Being 540 pages of very small print, it was conquered over weeks.

It was worth it.

Turing was a fascinating person with a very rich story which Hodge’s provides in the form of anecdotes from family and colleagues, letters written by Turing, and very fine detail of the time and society in which Alan lived.

Alan’s childhood, in particular tugged at my heart strings, being familiar enough to my own experiences, and traits I see in my eldest son, I felt it easy to put myself in his shoes.

(Alan Turing was not, that we will ever know, autistic. It is important to NOT jump to that conclusion. Yet he was, most certainly, different.)

I found it parts amusing, and parts heart wrenching. I also found myself angry that we didn’t learn about this man in school.

My only criticism of the book is that often times the book departs away from Alan’s story into long tangents about the development of math theories, and highly technical descriptions concerning cryptology (cryptography and cryptoanalysis as well). As a person born the 1970’s, I appreciated the historical explanation of the significance of cryptology to the war, and the attention to the intricacy of Mr. Turing’s projects. YET, I often felt lost, uninterested or confused while reading the long discussions of different theories. I think much of the book was written for people with backgrounds in maths and cryptology, not the average reader.

I hear that the movie "The Imitation Game" (screenplay based on this book) has been criticized for not enough explanation or being simplistic.

I understand the desire to not bore or hopelessly confuse the audience.

The important part is Mr. Turing as a person, which I hope they get right. If early reviews mean anything, it seems they have.

I will hold on to this book, and recommend others read it, skipping past the overly technical parts if need be. You may also need a magnifying glass.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back in print!, November 18, 2000
By 
Few people outside computer science know how important Alan Turing really is - he just might be the most important person to have lived in the 20th century - and it is quite shocking that this is the only biography of him (other than one written by his mother) that there is. Even more shocking is that in this age that is absolutely Turing's, that his biography could go out of print! I know it will never happen again.
This book is a work of 1st class scholarship, and obvious love. The world is a better place because of it.A Talented, Tragic, Man, December 12, 2014
By 
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
It is fitting that the movie for which this book was the major source should be called "The Imitation Game," because Alan Turing was required to imitate for so much of his too short life.

 First, as a highly gifted schoolboy he suffered the same fate as so many intelligent children at the hands of their less fortunate peers and was bullied unless he obscured his abilities.

 Secondly, in doing the work for which he is best known, developing the Enigma machines and breaking the German codes during World War II, he had to copy or imitate much of the work which the enemy had already done in order to understand and improve upon it.

Lastly, as a homosexual at a time when it was criminal to be one Turing had to lead a life that mirrored that of a "normal" or heterosexual male.

Alan Turing was born into a respectable upper middle class family with a long history of service in England and in India.

His exceptional mathematical abilities revealed themselves at an early age, and he won scholastic acclaim throughout his public school and university years in both England and the US. During World War II he was one of the famous codebreakers at Bletchley Park, playing an invaluable role in identifying German war aims. After the war he seemed destined for a long and celebrated career, but his associations with young men, some of them criminals, led to his arrest and conviction for homosexuality. Although he avoided prison he was required to undergo chemical castration, and the resulting scandal and his realization that he would henceforth be considered a security risk led to his suicide in 1954.

This is a well written and lengthy account of Turing's life and accomplishments. Although mathematics is by no means my strong point, I was able to comprehend and appreciate Turing's achievements thanks to Hodges' clear discussions. I found the segments on World War II to be the most interesting, gaining new appreciation for the Bletchley Park boffins. And I felt enormous sympathy for Turing the human being, a brilliant mentality linked to a shy and of necessity guarded personality.


26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Intellectual . Past My Brain Power, February 2, 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I really enjoyed the beginning where you learn a lot about the English culture sand schooling. You also get a good look into the mind of a most amazing man indeed. Once past this part however, it get very involved in all the actual too and froing within England's scientists, engineer's and mathematicians and Turing on how to create a machine that can compute large problems. You never really get into just how Turing was able to break the German code which is what I was interested in plus the man himself. His story is a sad one in a lot of ways. He was a homosexual which is quite illegal in England and he really pays a price for it eventually. If you have a very scientific mind and this kind of thing is interesting to you, it is very well written and flows well too.. I think, as lots of it was hard for me to follow. So its up to you to take a chance or not.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too many digressions and diversions at the beginning!, December 9, 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am upgrading my review from *** to **** as I plow through the book. The book is quite good, but quite detailed or technical. Not for a general reader.

It is quite good to see the role that Turing played during WW II and how effective he was. He was also very ineffective at times because he was clueless about social clues and unwilling/unable to understand military/war hierarchies. Still a fascinating and detailed, detailed, and more detailed book.

My original review:

Digression after digression, especially at the beginning of the book. Do I really need to know what letters Turing sent to a friend's mother or how she replied? Quite distracting. Too many digressions about historical figures, too. There is too much of that in the first 15% or so of the book.

Once the book gets into Turing's post-graduate work and his work to create computers, that kind detail is very useful -- and relevant.

I ordered this book as a Kindle book, because there were too many complaints about the small font in the print copies. It's easy to read on a Kindle app.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Frustrating read, December 21, 2014
By 
bravhat1234 (California, USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges covers a fascinating and important subject in the life of Alan Turing, but I would not recommend it to a math layman like myself. Much of the book outlines the history of mathematical and scientific ideas of the first half of the 20th century, Alan's included of course, as well as describing the machines that he helped design and build. This makes for extremely rough reading, especially since the book is over 500 pages. I commend Hodges for the large amount of research that went into this book especially since Alan was so secretive.

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Did he have to "bite the apple"?, November 10, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
British author Andrew Hodges' biography, "Alan Turing: The Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film "The Imitation Game" (now that's a mouthful!) is going to appeal to a self-selected readership: history readers and math readers.

I doubt anyone else is going to pick up this book and read it for the fun of it.

So, I am pitching my review to those historians and mathematicians who will read this book.

Andrew Hodges does an excellent job in telling the story of Alan Turing and his "times". Beginning with his early life in England as one of two sons of an India Service official and his wife, his years in "public school", and his time at Kings College, Cambridge, Hodges is a very literate biographer. I can judge this part because I know a fair bit of history. What I cannot say with any certainty is if Hodges gets the math part correctly. I am a math-moron and I could sort of follow his writing. If the reader is good in math, he should have no problem in understanding what Alan Turing accomplished in both the World War 2 and after. As the master code breaker at Bletchley Park, Turing broke German cypher codes from their Enigma machine and was instrumental in helping save the North Atlantic allied shipping from German Uboats. He was also considered one of the fathers of computer science, working after the war until his suicide in 1954.

The "death by poisoned apple" in my review's title refers to the method of suicide Turing used.

Alan Turing was a homosexual in a time when homosexuality was illegal.

He pled guilty of "gross indecency" in a British court in 1952 and rather than serve time in jail, he chose to take "hormonal" treatment to reduce his libido.

He found the treatments a life-altering and they, along with losing his government security clearance, may have contributed to his decision to commit suicide.

Alan Turing was treated very shabbily in life and in death, many honors were denied him.

He and his contributions to computer science and mathematics began to be recognised in 1966 when the "Turing Award" was first awarded by the Association for Computer Machinery.

Other honors - both by governmental and collegiate officials - have followed, as well as plays, movies, and biographies of Alan Turing.

Andrew Hodges' biography was originally issued in the 1990's.

It is now being reissued as an adjunct to the movie, "The Imitation Game", starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing and Kiera Knightly as fellow-code breaker, Joan Clarke. In the previews of the movie, Knightly is shown as the "love interest" of Cumberbatch.

In reality, the two were engaged during their work at Bletchley but broke it off short of marriage. I'm curious to see how the movie handles Turing's homosexuality, but that's for another review.

As for this biography, it is very, very well done.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I am still mulling over the implications of how ignorance and bigotry caused by outdated social dogma unfairly ruin the lives of, December 19, 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Difficult read because of technical material and structure that I found awkward to read. But that said, I found it to be very informative, interesting and thought provoking. I am still mulling over the implications of how ignorance and bigotry caused by outdated social dogma unfairly ruin the lives of good, honest and very capable people.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hodges gets the science right., December 2, 2000
By 
One of the difficult challenges for a scientific biographer is to get the science right. When the subject of the biography has contributed to multiple fields, this is even more difficult. Hodges rises to the challenge in this absorbing biography of the great Alan Turing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turing gave an illuminating proof of uncomputability; this book does the same for a life, November 22, 2014
By 
Rose Oatley (Miami, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This outstanding biography of a unique, outstanding and challenging human being is full of integrity and insight.

The author is himself a mathematician / logician, and is able to communicate Turing's work and scientific principles in an accessible yet rigorous way.

Plus, the author's broad knowledge of the modern social history of homosexuality brings a good mix of depth, objectivity and empathy to his view of Turing and the essential dilemmas of Turing's life. To label one's subject an "enigma" might seem at first a cop-out. But here it is a forthright statement of the stubborn and mysterious existential inner conflict and puzzle of the man's life, which his genius could not solve. Turing prized truth above all, but had the same subjective longings as all of us, that defeat logic at every turn. One of Turing's achievements was to prove the uncomputability of certain values; this book does the same for a life.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still an Enigma, but thought-provoking, January 14, 2015
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a re-release of a book that was first published in 1983 (and largely researched during the 10 years prior to that), so it first came out in a very different time than today--a time when World WarII secrets were still being somewhat protected, and when the details of a homosexual man's life were still not easy to explain to the average audience without giving offense.

Also, it was written and published in Great Britain.

As a result, there are many allusions and off-hand references that are opaque to an American living in 2015.

Although the author is a gay rights activist himself, as well as a mathematician, and wrote this book in part to try to see Alan Turing's life from a sympathetic point of view, some of his narration comes across as coy to the point of obscurity--he mentions Turing's trip to Sweden, but it is not till much later that it finally becomes clear that he went there to pick up men.

It is never completely clear which of his friends were also lovers and which were just colleagues.

And perhaps that was necessary when those men were still alive, or were only recently deceased, but if the book is going to be re-issued, it needed to be re-edited as well.

The intro, which details places where changes should or could be made, was not an adequate substitute for a revised edition.

The explanations of code breaking is detailed, but perhaps necessarily obscure as well. I still have no idea of how Turing's insights were different than what the Polish codebreakers had already accomplished.

One point that was a big issue in the movie, about how the Allies should use the information that they from their ability to read the Enigma code was never mentioned in the book, yet it is a crucial question--the movie has the military allowing a ship carrying one of the codebreakers's brothers go to its death, because otherwise the Germans would know that the Brits were able to read their messages, and would then change it. This is not in the book (fine, maybe it was fiction), but it's a key aspect of game theory--how do you use your hard-won information without tipping your hand? And if you can't use it, what's the point of having it?

It is a bit ironic that a book whose title implies that Alan Turing himself is the biggest enigma manages to leave him still an enigma in many ways, but that is the case.

I think the aspect of the book that I most grasped and that was the most thought-provoking was Turing's ideas about machine intelligence.

Turing was not actually most interested in making machines that were intelligent; he was most interested in exploring intelligence in machine form in order to understand what human intelligence actually is. He posited an extreme statement: machines can (and will some day) do everything that human brains do. But his point was to show that there was no "ghost in the machine," no special non-material "spirit" or "will" or "intuition" or "insight" necessary to explain human intelligence.

Like most people, I resist this idea to some extent. Could machines (computers, that is) ever make judgments? At first, my answer is no. But then they made computers that play chess at a Grand Master level (in the 1980s!). Ok, but that seems like a sort of a stunt. Recently IBM's Watson beat Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter at Jeopardy. Still, it seems more like looking things up on Wikipedia really fast, rather than actually thinking. But then I read that Watson is actually being used to diagnose illnesses, and that computers are more accurate than physicians, less liable to be led astray by forgetting or overlooking or dismissing crucial details. Hmmm, In advance, I would have said that the ability to diagnose a disease was an example par excellence of the sort of human judgment that computers would never have. And if they can drive our cars, and avoid accidents better than human drivers? Who would have thought it? Apparently the answer is, Alan Turing would have!

One off-hand remark in the afterword is that the author wonders if some day, a computer will be able to write a book such as his. Unimaginable, I think. But my daughter reminds me that computers already compose news items (rather badly, but still.) And we discuss the possibility that a basic undergraduate research paper could be composed by a computer today, and I think the answer is Yes. I can imagine that one could teach a computer to write a paper that discusses Domestic Violence, pulling together statistics on its frequency, demographics,causes, effects on children, possible solutions, and so forth.

I am left still puzzled by Alan Turing, finding it hard to picture him as a man, but deeply impressed by his mind, by his foresight and his insight, and I think that perhaps in some ways, he is in fact as significant a figure as Darwin and Einstein. What a tragedy that he died so prematurely, whether his death was in fact suicide, or possibly murder, or even more unlikely, a weird accident. How fitting and how odd that he died by (apparently) eating a poisoned apple. If it were fiction, it would just be too neat.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Biography of Powerful Brain, November 14, 1998
By A Customer
This is a touching biography of mathematician Alan Turing.

Hodges has taken the not-overwhelming amount of information that exists about Turing's life and turned it into a revelation of his character. I read this book with great attention and I think of it and its subject often. After I read it, I felt like I really knew the man and all about his fascinating work, his shy truthful nature, his sense of humour, what it was like to be a gay man in England in the middle of the twentieth century, and his loneliness. Hodges clearly has a tender regard for his subject and insight into his thoughts, and sometimes he constructs a window into Alan Turing's heart out of just a few surviving phrases--but it all rings true.

There's not a word that strikes you as just speculation and you never get the feeling that Hodges didn't have enough evidence for his assertions--you feel he's got it right every time, that's the way it was. Hodges presents the mysteries about Alan Turing's life, too, most of which are dark but a few merely funny (where _did_ he bury those silver ingots?) Parts of the biography are quite technical and it wouldn't hurt to have someone on hand who can explain the Reimann-Zeta function or whatever. If you have no interest in computer programming, cryptography, mathematics or any science, you can contentedly skip those parts. This book is heart-wrenching partly for the simple reason that I feel I would have liked Alan Turing very much and I wish we could be friends; I wish too that Turing could read his biography--he could laugh at any inaccuracies and set Hodges straight, but he would be immensely pleased at being so well-understood as he never was in his life.Too Much Math, January 15, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
After seeing the movie Imitation of Life, I wanted to learn more about Alan Turing. I found this book to be more of a description of his work than Alan Turing the man. Too much math, not enough humanity.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting portrait of a compelling misfit, July 8, 2004
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The book is well titled as the real Alan Turing was an enigma to many of those who knew him and perhaps even to himself. It is another example of how genius moves to its own rhythms and manages to get noticed in spite of itself.
Turing is, more than anyone else, the father of the modern computer, a man who could visualize something which did not even exist. It was his vision that eventually came to be the most powerful innovation in the last half century. Hodges book explores Turing's entire life and illuminates the context in which apparently arcane and irregular thinking came to have profound ramifications at the right moment and time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read, and a long book, January 17, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
This book is a difficult read. I have a science background, and technology does not slow me down, but I found the writing at some times inscrutable. Not an easy read, and a long book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and informative, November 27, 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The book is well written and highly informative. It covers all of Turing's life and all aspects of his death. Furthermore, the author, who is a mathematician, also provides detailed information about Turing's mathematical accomplishments. This is done in a general way and I felt that it was generally quite accessible, but the book contains a lot of material on this, and this might be a negative for some readers.

What is in the book -
- The book describes Turing early life and schooling. It discusses the fact that he and his older brother were left as boarders while his parents returned to India shortly after his birth. The book covers his schooling prior to and at Cambridge University.

- The book discusses in detail his work on the logic basis for the computer. Much of this is quite mathematical.

- The book covers, in quite a bit of detail his involvement with the work "breaking" the German Enigma cipher machine. There is a lot of detail about this, but not as much as in many other books, for instance Budainsky's "Battle of Wits".

- The book goes into detail about his contributions to the building of British computers after the war.

The book goes into considerable detail about his guilty plea against the charge of "gross indecency", the forced medical treatments to "control" his homosexuality, and how this may have resulted in his suicide.

 The book clarifies a lot about this and even makes a case that his death might have been accidental instead of suicide.

- The last part of the book discusses the subject of the impact of homosexuality on security clearance in general.

While I liked the book I could not give it five stars for two reasons. Firstly could have been reduced by at least 100 pages without any loss of information regarding Turing's life. Secondly, this centenary edition is printed with small type. While the typeface and printing produced sharply printed letters (at least for my book), the size of the letters took quite a bit of getting used to. I could not have read it prior to my cataract operations. All in all, I recommend the book, although some readers may want to skim over portions of it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enigma, November 17, 2014
By 
Kindle Customer (Whitehall, Michigan USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
An interesting biography of the father of modern computers. A bit heavy on mathematics for anyone who went no further than first year algebra in high school.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An even more beautiful mind, May 17, 2002
By 
Andrew Hodges writes an exquisite and richly detailed account of the life of Alan Turing. At long last, many of the disperate details of Turing's life and work are brought together seemlessly and the reader finishes the book with a more complete understanding of the accomplishments and challenges Turing faced.
The contrast of Turing's life against the back-drop of early 20th century English society is fascinating, though at times quite painful to read.

Turing is portrayed not as a freakish social misfit but as a multi-dimensional person with genius-like abilities. Turing was indeed an odd man, certainly an eccentric intellectual, but Hodges successfully portrays him as an anachronism, a man out of place in his time. That he ended up commiting suicide at a relatively young age punctuates the theme of adversity that define Turing's life.
A fascinating book which richly weaves the history of science, mathematics and English society through the 1920's, 30's and 40's.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Edition, January 20, 2015
Note from Publisher: Princeton University Press confirms that the Kindle edition of Alan Turing: The Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film 'The Imitation Game' contains links between the table of contents and chapters and other functionality provided by Kindle devices and the Kindle mobile app.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too clever for his own good, February 12, 2001
Alan Turing will never really be accepted as the genius that he was or as a cruel victim of state incompetence, betrayal and deceit. In a country that could be at ease with such curious oxymorons such as military music, common-wealth and unwritten constitution it is perhaps difficult to see why Alan Turing was not better appreciated and his vast talent not profitably used, both in times of war and, perhaps as importantly, in times of peace.

The book itself should go down in history as a monumental mark of respect and admiration for one of Englands greatest scientific genius. It traces Alan Turing's life from end to end, covering all aspects of his life, his work and his person. It describes his greates contributions to the advancement of science as well as his open and unapologetic homosexuality.
As has been mentioned elsewhere, Alan Turing was one of the first victims of the "security state", an awful waste of fine talent and genius, very much the anglo-saxon way - too damn clever for his own good!
regards,
martyn_jones@iniciativas.com
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I first read this biography in 1991 and became enraptured ..., November 23, 2014
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
I first read this biography in 1991 and became enraptured with Turing's story, his mathematics, and encryption. A very detailed read that gives the reader insight into his highs and lows. Still fresh today.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A scientifically useful biography, February 4, 2004
I read part of this book in 1985 while trying to understand chaotic orbits. The problem was to understand how an orbit can be deterministic and apparently random. When I read Hodges' description of the Turing machine then I realized that it is easy to answer the question, and was able to write down the answer: one simply digitizes the map or ode, initial condition, and all the control parameters in some base of arithmetic, and then studies the action of a (digitized) positive Liapunov exponent on a digit string.

I can't comment on the rest of the book, but Hodges does a very good job of presenting Turing's ideas of computable numbers and computable functions. When my collaborator Palmore read the description I refer to here, he said that he nearly fell out of his chair. We solved the problem of computability of chaotic orbits in that era together.
Is there a good book on computability and automata? So far, all the automata texts that I'm aware of are written in a special holy language of abstract computerize. The language erects an unnecessary barrier to understanding the basic ideas. Is Turing's original paper a proof, or an explanation of what he'd understood? I don't know, but I can refer the reader to "Descartes' Dream" by Reuben and Hersch for perespective.VERY VERY ILLUMINATING AND REAL!!, January 19, 2015
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
Andrew Hodges' book about Alan Turing, published by Princeton University, is an honor to own and an illuminating read. Hodges brings Turing to life through his empathetic scrutiny of the resource material Turing left behind, and as Hodges says, "by meeting so many people who knew him."

Hodges says of his success in drawing this portrait of Turing, "first acknowledgment must go to my subject himself, who left behind a fund of goodwill on which I have repeatedly drawn."
That Hodges is himself a mathematician makes it possible for him to speak knowledgeably about the work that consumed Turing during his life. He illuminates the work in a way that only another mathematician could do. And for the non-mathematician, the bits of mathematical reading can be a bit heavy, but not so much so that it in any way detracts from getting to know him. Certainly we who never knew Turing couldn't truly know and appreciate the man Turing was without knowing as much as we are personally capable of understanding about the work that was his passion. Turing's professional legacy is well worth knowing for it had an immediate and crucial impact on the world in which he lived then, and it continues forward in time, escalating in significance to this day. The world we live in today would not be the same without the part Alan Turing played in shaping it.
But the book is not only about Turing's work. As we read we come to know the man himself quite well through Hodges free-handed inclusion of correspondence and reference material. I became quite fond of Turing as a person, and found that I had developed a profound respect for him - he was a person I would have wanted to know.
Hodges, in documenting Turing's life and work so well, has ensured that history will be able to look back and know from whence we came.

We are unquestionably in the debt of these two men, Turing and Hodges, whose lives are bound through some mysterious quirk of quantum physics that led Hodges to Alan Turing. In his childhood, Turing had been profoundly affected by the death of his classmate, Christopher Morcum. In a letter quoted by Hodges, Turing writes to his mother: "I feel sure that I shall meet Morcum again somewhere and that there will be some work for us to do together..." I find that I can't help but wonder if Christopher had a hand in drawing Hodges attention to Turing's life.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ponderous but the information is there, January 14, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
Not a page turner. Obviously written by a mathematician who is enamored of the details of Turing's work. If you want more depth into Turing's life and work it is OK, but you may want to skim some of the pages to get to the good stuff.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Explaining an enigmatic man, August 11, 2014
This biography gets the reader to both understand and empathize with Alan Turing. The amount of detail is enormous. I found the first half of the book better written. Hodges brings in much of the history of intelligence work in the early years of World War II and integrates Turing's life exceptionally well with the context of the war and Bletchley Park. The reader gets an inside look at some of the most interesting material around in both the early development of machine "thinking" and the people behind the British intelligence effort. Turing's early life is also clearly presented. The second half of the book also has enormous detail but Hodges wanders more in his writing. It is not as tightly organized and I found myself at times unsure of where his point was going. I found two real strengths in the book as a whole. One is the genuine sense of empathy the reader gets for this man who was amazingly candid and open about his life in the face of a society that literally persecuted those who were sexually different. The other strength is Hodge's ability to get across the breakthroughs that Turing made. It is one thing to read about the Turing Machine and the beginnings of programming in the abstract; it is another to see these in the context of a man's life. Hodges has done a terrific job at this.

Aside from the stylistic problems I had in the second half, I recommend this book both as an empathetic and extremely well-documented biography of Alan Turing but also as a history of the beginning of computer science.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book, bad print., December 4, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The contents are greaet. Printing paper is very poor, which a slight smell and uncomfortable touch. The letters are too small for me as well.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, January 9, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
The technical stuff was a bit hard for me, a layman, to follow.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Respected biography, but dry, May 19, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Hodges' book is a highly respected account of the life of Alan Turing. However, I found it quite dry and struggled to make it even half way through the work. I have still not finished it months after putting it down.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

5.0 out of 5 stars A TOUR DE FORCE, January 18, 2015
By 
Dr. Ellen K. Rudolph (East Tennessee and Virginia) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
Fabulous movie...absolutely fabulous...and the book fills in some blanks you will want answers for. I can't recommend this book more highly. Your understanding of WWII will be forever changed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, January 15, 2015
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Great story, but much of the book deals in very high level mathematics that I don't understand
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

5.0 out of 5 stars This was a surprise birthday present for a friend of ..., January 24, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
This was a surprise birthday present for a friend of mine, after we both saw the film THE IMITATION GAME.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alan Turing: Enigma - A very good look at the life of a man who shoutd be as famous as Einstein, January 28, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have not read my Kindle edition yet, but read this book when it was first published. When I got my Kindle I checked regularly to see if it was available.

This is a very good book, which gives the life of Turing against the background of the times that he lived and explains a lot about the science and technology of Turings work.

A book that is worth reading about a person that should be as famous as many of the mathematicians and scientists, but isn't because his work was classified for many yearsEssential., September 19, 2003
By 
The one and only Turing biography you'll ever need, long enough to satisfy even the most hardcore Turing admirers.

Irreproachably researched and thorough. I only wish Hodges offered an abridged version I could recommend to my friends- this book is too detailed for casual readers.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good biography, perhaps too long., October 24, 2003
If you consider to read this book in order to know about Alan Turing's life, definetely this is the book.

 In it you will learn about the code breakers, about the WWII spy technology and also about the science aplied to War, however, when I read it I found out that sometimes too many pages (550) can make it boring (more than 20 pages dedicate about how to build a subroutine in a program, more than 20 pages about homosexuality laws, more than 20 pages about historic information from India).

Being so detailed makes sometimes forget about the main issue. That is why I didn't give it 5 stars.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Histories, July 9, 2009
By 
Kevin Lindsey (Fairfax, Virginia United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Two books for the price of one.
The first is an excellent biography of Alan Turing and his contributions to number theory, computer science, cryptography, and World War II.

He was an amazing man, although it's hard to escape the conclusion that his post-war years were nothing but a footnote to Bletchley.
The second is a frank history of homosexuality in the U.K. in the years immediately before and after the war. It's amazing how far we've come.

If there's a criticism of this book, it's that the author never really seems to connect the two themes.

The only thing they have in common is Alan Turing; his homosexuality had no apparent influence on his mathematics, and his mathematics had no obvious impact on his sexuality.

The whole gay side of Turing's life probably could have been left out of this work with little appreciable impact.

That minor exception aside, this is a beautiful work.

 I particularly appreciate Hodges's treatment of Turing's suicide; he doesn't blame it on the estrogen treatments, on British intelligence, on GCHQ security, or on the Freemasons. Turing simply killed himself for no apparent reason. 

Why Douglas Hofstadter, who wrote the introduction to the book, blamed Turing's death on "a chemistry accident" is a mystery.

Hodges is an elegant writer who should have taken up literature instead of mathematics.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars beware--bad Kindle version, January 4, 2015
By 
Dolly (Houston, TX) - See all my reviews
This book begins with a very, very systematic recitation of Turing's family's background.

There are compellingly written biographies, but at least at the beginning, this is not one of them.

Sadly, the Kindle scan will not allow me to skip chapters. Save your money, Kindle readers, and scanning subcontractor/Princeton UP, get on the ball and fix it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who killed the inventor of the computer?, January 8, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
One enormous possibility is left hanging by this otherwise diligent account of the life of the man who envisaged the computer.
Was he killed by the State?

Turing's death was suicide, the State recorded.

But it did so with a strange carelessness, neglecting to analyse the half-nibbled, supposedly cyanide-dipped apple found beside his body.

The author may have suspected the State disposed of Turing in an era of hysterical fear about homosexuals and blackmail and Cold War security breaches, but his hints are as faint as the certainty surrounding the end of a genius Britain could ill-afford to waste.

State-ordered executions by the post World War II forces of good are by no means outside the realms of possibility, if we accept the conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy boys and others.
Turing's recklessness (to official eyes) made him a prime target for unofficial execution. He harboured State secrets of the highest order, but also an inconvenient desire for individual freedom, especially to pursue sexual satisfaction in times when his predilections were considered deeply perverse by officialdom.

The author fails to explore this obvious thesis, however, and leaves us to wonder.

His book is a tedious read for its complexity. However, those patient enough to chip away at it are rewarded with a remarkable account of a man so far ahead of his time as to be incomprehensible to those who knew him and worked with him.

The fact I am able to write this review with the unseen aid of a lot of ones and zeroes working magically behind the screen of my iPad is attributable to the extraordinary mind of Alan Turing.

Where might we be if he had lived to see the outcome of his vision?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well balanced masterpiece, May 27, 2014
Since a number of the previous reviewers gave excellent reviews, I would just like to highlight a few points. Hodges has done an impressive job in giving a detailed description of the lives of Alan Turing the man and Alan Turing the scientist.

Wherever, there is evidence for these two worlds intersecting, Hodges has given clear descriptions of the cross-talk. In addition, he at no moment suffers from the common addiction among biographers to stress the facts out of proportion to make them fit a preconceived opinion of the subject. Hodges has expert knowledge on the subject of Turing's work at all the stages of his career, and does a great job in following the development of Turing's main interests.

 When it comes to Turing the man, Hodges paints a precise, sympathetic but certainly not sugar-coated portrait. Especially, when it comes to the discussion of Turing's homosexuality and suicide Hodges is exemplary in his non-sensationalistic restraint and objectivity.

Together all these attributes result in a very well-rounded and informative biography.

For all those interested in the ideas on which the concept of the computer was founded and on Turing's role in the enigma project this book is required reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

16 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is NOT a Biography of Alan Turing..., August 24, 2012
By 
Tom L. (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
... but is instead a biography of mathematics, a history of math from the mid-19th Century to the mid-20th Century (with occasional excruciatingly-detailed excursions beyond those margins). It is ENDLESS, and ultimately doesn't have a whole lot to do with Turing the man, preferring to concentrate on Turing the computational machine.

It's largely dehumanizing and, in its discussions of Turing's sexuality, altogether rather coy, depending more often than not on a wink and a smile to communicate the depth of human interactions that should have been the much more central purpose of the book.

Hodges was, according to Wikipedia, "a pioneer of the gay liberation movement of the 1970s" in addition to a being mathematician.

Hence his apparent interest in Turing.

That interest, though, seems to derive from a conviction that if he can just figure out how the plugboard is wired and the rotors are set, Turning the human Enigma machine will become suddenly transparent.

Ultimately, that conviction is not fulfilled.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The book is excellent — ought to be five stars, December 4, 2014
By 
NYC Dubious (East Coast of the United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
The book is excellent — ought to be five stars. But the edition has terribly small type, hence the low-ball rating.

The index and quoted passages are in type even smaller than the regular type, and it's painful to read. Unhappy!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A truely insightfull biography of a great Scientest most of us knew nothing about, February 12, 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Turing the Enigma

For all of us who grew up in families who's members were the actors of the Great World War and responsible for coping with the changes in our culture that resulted in the aftermath of that great struggle, the story of Alan Turing is a critical aspect of making sense of the world we live in going into the 21st century.

The ongoing collective fear of our culture is surely the result of not really understanding how it was that we and our allies survived and then won the war agains our enamies and then went on to create the greatest growth of industry and well being of all recorded time.

Alan Turing's secret contribution to the war effort and the resulting foundation for all that has followed based on his vision of a "universal computing machine" goes a long way to explaining our current world.

 It may dispell some of the anxiety that has persisted in our culture because we did not understand how our world has come to be as it is in this age of information and virtual reality.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Turing book review, December 20, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The print is sooooooo small!!! Hard to read DB. Story is very good tho. We gave to a friend with better eyes          Wasn't what I quite expected so far, December 10, 2014
By 
Ray French (Simsboro, Louisiana United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Still reading this book.

So far it's kind of difficult because the Author jumps around and compares the three different revisions he has written.

Hopefully it will puck up and be more interesting.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The enigma from the inside., September 12, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
An outstanding tour de force, clearly a work of love by a person who could see and understand Turing's world from the inside.

This is the definitive account of this important figure's life.

Eminently readable yet literate, balanced and sympathetic without being fawning. Totally recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

17 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor digital copy, August 17, 2012
By 
Smiley2 (Best Coast USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The digital version of this book is very poor.

It is missing letters, has repeated paragraphs, etc, makes for more difficult reading. More quality control is needed!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Suicide?, November 19, 2013
This biography is too technically detailed – for me.

As a foreigner I was more interested in writer’s descriptions about Turing’s epoch, the last decades of the British Empire, than technical nuances.

But was it a suicide really?

I mean, Britain’s best informed scientist secretly meeting working class heroes in public toilets.

Cold war time, foreign agents and paranoia.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent history/biography, November 17, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
this book is an excellent history of the Blechley decipher unit which broke the Nazi Enigma code machine in WWII.

It is also an excellent mini-biography of Alan Turing, one of the super code-breakers and founders of the first programmable computer "Collossus". an excellent read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touring, As Only Hodgers Could ..., September 9, 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Hodges has provided a view into the mind and person of Alan Turing that only a mathematically scientific individual could produce.

Clearly Hodges expressed a deep appreciation for Turing and the genius buried within his incandescent mind.

I found it informative to be acquainted with the people whose lives intersected with Turing providing a deeper respect for the intellectual world that existed in Touring's day.

I sometimes fall prey to seeing only the pinnacle of a celebrated person's life, seldom acknowledging the torment and struggle of that life.

 The ultimate poverty and torment of Beethoven came to mind as I confronted Hodges' portrayal of Touring.

Genius is not devoid of demons.

How remarkably similar we are as humans.

And, how fortunate we are for people like Alan Touring who carry the flux and flaw of life in the process of providing the priceless gift of their performance.

Hodges has given to me an appreciation for Alan Turing that heretofore was only a name associated with ciphering and cryptology.

Hodges encapsulated the complexity of the issues and made them understandable.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decidablly good read, April 5, 2013
I had studied Turing's work but knew little about the man.

Andrew Hodges's biography provided insight into the many dimensions of AMT.

I found it to be a respectful and honest treatment.

 I also enjoyed learning about many aspects of AMTs life and work during WWII.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Biography of a Major Force in the HIstory of Computing, August 9, 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I read Hodges biography of Turning when it was first published in 1983, and at the time thought it was one of the best scientific biographies I had ever read.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Turing's birth I acquired the new Centenary Edition of the biography and read it again. I still think of it as one of the very best, and in the intervening 29 years since it was first published I have read many other science biographies.

The biography itself is unaltered, but Hodges has added a new Preface that adds some perspective to both Turing and the biography itself.

I strongly recommend this new Centenary Edition.

Turing was a remarkable man, who laid the intellectual foundations for computer science in general and artificial intelligence in particular.

In the last few years before his tragic suicide he got interested in biology, and one has to believe that if he had lived longer, he might have emerged as a major figure in that field as well.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early cyber history well told, February 26, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If Paul Dirac was a "Most Unusual Man" so to was Turing.

He and John von Neumann gave us programing and Turing's work at Bletchly was of critical help in solving the German codes.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

14 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tiny print, January 1, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)


Tiny print makes this extremely difficult to read. Perhaps that's why the only samples shown in the looking inside are from the Kindle edition.

This isn't a comment on the content of the book because I couldn't read it. I'm commenting anyway because potential buyers should know what the physical qualities of the book are.Alan Turing accomplished two fundamental things: 1. Created ..., January 9, 2015
By 
Ladislav Nemec (Big Bear City, CA, US) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Alan Turing accomplished two fundamental things:

1. Created a model of what we call now a 'computer' - the model is in 2015 called the Turing Machine

2. helped to decipher the Nazi secret codes decades ago

And, unfortunately, because of stupidity of the UK society, killed himself...

Should I search, so to speak, the book for the actual incident that put into the motion the police investigation resulting not in imprisonment (it could have at that time!) but in a 'chemical' castration of Turing that, in turn, made him depressed and he killed himself?

I think I have this story right (from other sources) and it was an important story.

Complete misunderstanding, to put it mildly, and, finally, a posthumous pardon awarded by the Queen of England.

Bit late for poor Alan...

Three stars only, lot of technical (mathematical) stuff and a rehash of the era (1930 - 1950).

The author writes about Turing's homosexuality (Turing himself was way ahead even in this era and did not think much about it) but does not seem to emphasize its final indirect result - Turing's early death.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The enigma of creativity and sexual morality, July 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
An enthralling description of the development of a mathematical innovator and his involvement in the crucial code breaking operations at Bletchley Park during WWII.

Equally fascinating is the exploration of Turing's homosexuality and the illustration of how censorious society was at that time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars you will enjoy this book very much, January 6, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
If you want to know more about The Enigma, this is the book for you.

I got hooked when I watched "Bletchley Circle."

If you are into research and biographies and history, you will enjoy this book very much.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alan Turing - The Enigma, July 28, 2014
By 
Barbara A Dignan (Highlands Ranch, CO, US) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Alan Turing was so important a player in WW 2.

A genius.

The novel is fantastic.

I'm almost 2/3 done reading it.


Only problem: the print is so tiny, it's difficult to read the 500 pages!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting but need a "math brain", December 13, 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I finally realized that this book was beyond my understanding about half way through because I just couldn't handle the science of which the book is more about than Turing's actual personal life, or so it seemed to me.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wild and lonely, January 6, 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular." -- Adlai Stevenson

Alan Turing died young.

Few people shared his interests during his lifetime; and one of his major works was classified for the entire duration of his life.

And Turing himself was not quite anti-social; more a-social, or stand-off-ish.

He was interested in friendly relationships only with people who shared his interests, and these were few.

Even his runner's club would have given him few outlets for friendship -- running was not very popular in the 1930's.

Hodge chronicles every documented moment of Turing's life.

However, most of the narrative after his adolescence feels like we are watching Alan Turing, not being with Alan Turing.

If this were a work of fiction, I would chide the author to do better, to show more of the book from Alan's point of view.

But this is a biography.

 Hodges got as close as any biographer can with the material available.

How many more Alan Turings are there right now?

"So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan's work I am very proud to say: we're sorry, you deserved so much better." -- Gordon Brown
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book, August 3, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Found the book easy to read, and actually it was difficult to make myself put it down to go to work.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turing is the overlooked Brit who created computers and decoded WWII cryptography, December 15, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
How could the English have overlooked and "castrated" through female hormones a man so important to their very survival during WWII?

This exceptional man created "artificial intelligence" or computer technology. He was a master of cryptic codes and decoded German messages which helped the Allies during WWII.

He had many sides and had his body not changed and his mind not become altered by the English judicial system of the early 1950s, who knows what else he might have invented.

This story and this book is so compelling that I recommend it highly.

Get yourselves acquainted with the biographer Hodges who understands the concepts and the man who made our first computer programs.
Dr. Diane Holloway Cheney
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my heroes revealed in all his brilliance and mystery., April 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Don't be put-off by the math or computerese --- this is one of the geniuses of the 20th Century, who refused to bow down to the "Science Racket" or toot his own horn, so to speak.

 Andrew Hodges presents a testament to Homophobia and how it affected this sensitive man to his death by suicide in 1954 at the age of 42.

I find that many gay men of today have no idea of how attitudes have change in the last 40 years.

Between Oscar Wilde in 1895 and Alan Turing in 1951 and beyond, homosexuality remained a death sentence to many of our most precious human treasures.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Code-breaking Activies at Bletchley Park in WWII England - "Alan Turing: The Enigma The Centenary Edition" by Andrew Hodges, August 20, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I enjoy reading great biographies.

This author's historical account details WWII Great Britain's top secret code-breaking office at Bletchley Park in England.

The U.K. and the Allies, working in concert, were successful in their efforts to defeat Hitler's Nazi regime.

 The book, written by Andrew Hodges, was well-written, and I think it has earned a top 5-star rating.

It certainly held my attention - a real "page turner." The vendor/ supplier's paperback book was in EXCELLENT new condition. Kudos!Four Stars, January 8, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
Very good book
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dry as a popcorn fart!, January 3, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
So you loved the Imitation Game and want to know more about the saga of Bletchley and how Enigma shortened the war?

Then this is NOT your book.

This book will bury you in minutiae and bore you to tears.

Yes, the work is thoroughly researched--but it is as dry as a popcorn fart.

The author is so pedantic that it is unreadable to all but die-hard Alan Turing fans.

Keep looking.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, January 21, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
Great Read
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Turing a true genius and major contributor to computing machinery architecture when such machines did not exist, January 1, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Well written and detailed book about a socially uncomfortable and awkward mathematical genius who made major contributions to the allied effort and success in breaking the German naval Enigma code that directed the German navy, particularly the submarine packs that literally almost sunk the Allied supply of matre
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great minds of the modern age and a great piece ..., July 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)


Compelling and scholarly.

Shows how Turing's achievements have been swept under the rug due to his homosexuality.

One of the great minds of the modern age and a great piece of biographical detective work and rendition from sympathetic biographer in the same field.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for those interested in Turing's life., June 28, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)


This is THE biography for Turing.

Hodges really dives into his life and it's basically like being back in time.

I used this for my research project and it easily became the backbone to all my further research.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WW II Cryptographer, January 27, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
He built the first mechanical computer.

Turing was a hero in winning the war, but had an unfortunate personal life.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

33 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Excruciatingly Detailed, May 27, 2009
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This biography on Alan Turing would have been so much better if the author had just thrown out about half the excruciatingly detailed descriptions of every single thing that happened in young Turing's life.

The first 100 pages and he's not even out of college yet.

 Boring and a little bit pointless.

 I'd like to recommend the book, but I'm only about half-way through and find myself skipping entire pages.

I mean, who really wants to read all those letters he wrote to home when he was at boarding school?

It's a little like reading the shopping list of a famous person - no matter how interesting that person may have been, it's just not that interesting to read about the mundane details of his or her life.

For a really great biography on another enigmatic scientist, try "Tesla - Man Out of Time" by Margaret Cheney. Now, that's the way to write a biography.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Alan Turing: The Enigma, January 19, 2015
I thought this one of the most boring books I have read.

Way too much abstruse detail.

 It is very thorough but no strong narrative thread.

The movie was much better, even if limited in focus.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating, January 11, 2015
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
The Alan Turing of this biography is nothing like the Turing portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in the Imitation Game.

But unfortunately this biography does not give you any sense of what Turing was really like as a person, or provide any readable explanation of the science.

Too much detail for me, September 26, 2002
By 
I found the story of Alan Turing's life to be very interesting.

His original work on dreaming up a "thinking machine" that would eventually become what we know as a computer and his work on breaking the German "enigma" code are worth knowing about.

His tragic end is cause for us all to remember the importance of tolerance.

However, I found this book to be too long and detailed for my tastes.

I think the story could have been told in one half or one third the space.

So I would recommend that anyone interested in the history of science read a biography of Turing, but a different one than this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Story of A Man Who Created the Foundations of Computer Science, December 1, 2013
By 
Alan A. Jorgensen (Las Vegas, Nevada, US) - See all my reviews
     
This is an amazing story about an amazing man who, with Alonzo Church, invented computer science.

During WW II he applied his mind to the problem of cracking the German encryption system, Enigma, used to communicate with German submarines in the Atlantic.

That is but one of his stories.

The story of the end of his life is heartbreaking.

I am proud that by coincidence I share his given name.

Just one of the thing he accomplished in his life was to prove that there are computational problems that cannot be solved.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could not finish it, January 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's a tough read - I could not finish it.

I wanted to and tried several times.

But it may be me more than the book in all fairness.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest men in modern-day history., April 13, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It was a wonderful story and the way his life ended was sad.

Obama paid him a wonderful tribute when he said Alan Turing saved he world!

Such a lonely, difficult childhood, too.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alan Turing: The Enigma, January 28, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Well written, fascinating biography.

 On the negative side, the print in this edition is absurdly small, hard to read for any length of time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Alan Turing Enigma, January 25, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Alan Turing Enigma : Excellent biography, beautifully written by Andrew Hodges. One of the best biographies I have ever read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alan Turing- A much maligned and very badly treated genius, November 29, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A truly excellent account of this misunderstood genius.
Truly a man who shortened ww2 and saved many thousands of lives.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Readers that want to work at reading read this!, January 1, 2015
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
The book is poorly edited and jumps back and forth without some very important information.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, October 31, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Excellent!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

8 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is one very boring book. I attempted to skip until I could ..., January 1, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
This is one very boring book. I attempted to skip until I could find something that might have help me attention.

Guess what - Couldn't find a thing.

Five Stars, January 13, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
Arrived very quickly.

Can't wait to read it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars print too small to read., August 27, 2012
By 
R. Larsen (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
An embarrassment of bookmaking.

The type is much too small.

I was looking forward to owning this in paper but will now have to buy on kindle.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, December 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
One of the most important people of the 20th century, Alan Turing is an example for all of us today.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, January 16, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
Great.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

7 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars FOR MATH PH'S ONLY, December 23, 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
UNLESS YOU ARE A MATH GEEK THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR YOU.

MIND NUMBING PAGES REGARDING MATH.

ONCE IN AWHILE SOMETHING ABOUT TURING...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, January 3, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
good book
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

11 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars At a bookstore or library I would have realized it was not a book I would enjoy., January 1, 2015
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)


The beginning of the book is basically unreadable due to the author's writing style...very British.

There is way too much detail about Turning's young life and then too much detail about his later life.

 The author is full of himself.

Had I realized how long the book was I would never have bought it.


Amazon needs to indicate the number of pages involved and maybe I few pages to read to get a sense of the writing style. At a bookstore or library I would have realized it was not a book I would enjoy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Written in a way that can be easily followed. And since everyone knows Benedict Cumberbatch is ..., December 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
Just about unbelievable.

Written in a way that can be easily followed.

And since everyone knows Benedict Cumberbatch is playing the lead in the movie version...........it makes the book just that much more enjoyable.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

1 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not even close to what I expected or hoped., January 13, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)


Purchasing this book was a great mistake.

I was sooooo bored reading the first chapter I fell asleep and never picked it up again.

I was hoping to get some technical insight into his work and theories but all I got was boring detail about his life.

I've read biographies that actually contained good history on inventions and theories of smart individuals in our past but never anything this mundane, boring, dry, contentless, or whatever other words you can make up to describe sheer boredom.

The movie must REALLY BE BORING so now I know not to even consider it. Don't buy this book if you're interested in learning about his theories and accomplishments.

Do buy this book if you have insomnia and need something to help you fall asleep.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

0 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, December 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, "The Imitation Game" (Paperback)
Sadness but triumph nowOne Star, December 23, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Too dense and scientific for me.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the movie, December 20, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
impossible to read.

This would be gifted if it was a real book. 

Reads like a professor wrote it. 

I would hate to look at the notes.

I will not read it. 

Certainly not as good as the movie. Imitation

19 of 71 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Low Paper Quality, August 13, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
No doubt this is a masterpiece in terms of contents.

But I have to say the quality of the paper and print is really bad.

Even hard to read.

Bad experience.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

11 of 49 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star, August 25, 2014
By 
      
How can you like a book that is impossible to read because of the tiny font?

 
     
if I were interested in mathematical theory I might have liked it. He went off on tangents & used 2 pages where 2 sentences would suffice.

     
 
     
Don't be fooled.

This book may allude to the film, "The Imitation Game" but it is not anywhere close.

It is an overly detailed, mathematically and statistically dull biography.

I wish I could get credit for my purchase.

I could not get past the first ten pages.

      


  

      
 
     
With so many good reviews (5 stars), somebody doesn't know what makes a good book.

Maybe its me, but I was so disappointed in this book.

If you think this is going to be a great story about the wizards of Bletchley, keep shopping.

It's not.

It's page after page (600 +) of nails across the chalkboard tedium.