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Sture Johannesson Nicolaus Schafhausen Ed. Written by a mathematician, it describes in plain language Turing's work on the foundations of computer science and how he broke the Germans' Enigma code in the Second World War. The subtle depiction of class rivalries, personal relationships, and Turing's tragic end are worthy of a novel. But this was a real person. Hodges describes the man, and the science that fascinated him--which once saved, and still influences, our lives. This account of Turing's life is a definitive scholarly work, rich in primary source documentation and small-grained historical detail.
The great thing about this book is that the author is a mathematician and can explain the details of Turing's work--as a scientist, mathematician, and a code breaker--in a way that is easy to understand.
He is also wonderful at the emotional nuance of Alan's life, who was a somewhat odd--a student was assigned to him in school to help him maintain a semblance of tidiness in his appearance, rooms and school work and at Bletchley Park he was known for chaining his tea mug to a pipe--but he was also charming and intelligent and Hodges brings all the aspects of his personality and life into sharp focus.
Reading it is a melancholy experience, since you know from the outset that the ending is a tragic one and that knowledge overshadows you throughout. While the author divides the text into two parts, it actually reads like a play in four acts.
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This book is Turing's memorial, and one that does justice to the subject. A great read, Hodges's intellectual biography depicts Turing as a brilliant mathematician; a crucial pioneering figure in the theorization and engineering of digital computing; and the biggest brain in Bletchley Park's Hut 8. It will bring you as close as possible to his enigmatic personality. I found it to be a page-turner in spite of the occasionally esoteric explanations of mathematical theories that reminded of why Brooklyn Technical High School was not the wisest choice for me.
For anyone whose interest in the pioneering computer scientist, mathematician, and logician was piqued by the film, the book that served as the film's source material, Andrew Hodges's exhaustive biography Alan Turing: The Enigma , has the answers. Perceptive and absorbing, Andrew Hodges's book is scientific biography at its best.
It is hard to imagine a more thoughtful and compassionate portrait of a human being. Andrew Hodges.
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