• Alan Turing: The Enigma

  • By: Andrew Hodges
  • Narrated by: Gordon Griffin
  • Length: 30 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 23-06-12
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • 4 out of 5 stars 3.9 (451 ratings)

Editor reviews

Alan Turing: The Enigma is written by Mathematician Andrew Hodges and is narrated in this biographical audiobook edition by Gordon Griffin. The book went on to be inspiration for the 2014 Academy Award-nominated film The Imitation Game. This is the tragic story of a genius whose profound contributions were doubted for decades and whose personal life was utterly persecuted. After an official public apology from the UK Prime Minister in 2009 and a posthumous pardon from the Queen in 2013, the life of Alan Turing has finally been honoured. This book provides the telling of Turing’s life story that he so rightly deserves history to remember. Available now from Audible.
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Listed as one of the essential 50 books of all time in The Guardian
Inspired the Academy Award-nominated film, The Imitation Game
It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades--all before his suicide at age forty-one. This classic biography of the founder of computer science, reissued on the centenary of his birth with a substantial new preface by the author, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life.
A gripping story of mathematics, computers, cryptography, and homosexual persecution, Andrew Hodges's acclaimed book captures both the inner and outer drama of Turing's life.Hodges tells how Turing's revolutionary idea of 1936--the concept of a universal machine--laid the foundation for the modern computer and how Turing brought the idea to practical realization in 1945 with his electronic design. The book also tells how this work was directly related to Turing's leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II, a scientific triumph that was critical to Allied victory in the Atlantic. At the same time, this is the tragic story of a man who, despite his wartime service, was eventually arrested, stripped of his security clearance, and forced to undergo a humiliating treatment program--all for trying to live honestly in a society that defined homosexuality as a crime.
©2012 Andrew Hodges (P)2012 Audible Ltd
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Critic reviews

"A first-rate presentation of the life of a first-rate scientific mind...it is hard to imagine a more thoughtful and warm biography than this one." ( NYT Book Review)
"A superb biography. . . . 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." (Margaret Boden, New Scientist)
"One of the finest scientific biographies I've ever read: authoritative, superbly researched, deeply sympathetic and beautifully told." (Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind.)
"One of the finest scientific biographies ever written." ( Jim Holt, New Yorker)
"A first-class contribution to history and an exemplary work of biography." (I. J. Good, Nature)
"An almost perfect match of biographer and subject. . . . [A] great book." ( Ray Monk, Guardian)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Dennis G. on 14-02-15

Turing an enigma.

Great story superbly read. My only criticism is that the writer could have reduced its length by half without loss of quality.
Then I would have had to give it 5 stars.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Mrs on 12-06-13

One for the intellectuals

A couple of things stood out in this book. The first is that I am too stupid to fully appreciate this book. The second is that while being brilliant and an influential person in computing, Turing didn't have an interesting enough life to justify such a long autobiography. That isn't to say he doesn't deserve to have his life documented, just that it doesn't make for the best listen. Again this is a personal thing of enjoying lighter biographies like Steve Jobs.

If you are more knowledgeable about computing and maths then you will get a lot more from this book as you will be ale to understand the finer details which made up so much of the bulk of the material. For me it went right over my head and there would be hours when I just switched off.

This book is also a biography of computing and maths as well as Turing. Sadly my maths doesn't go beyond GCSE and I felt I was missing out on a lot while listening.

The narrator was perfect in my opinion. It deserves pointing out.

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24 of 27 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Sara on 22-02-15

A Fantastic Biography For The Patient Listener

I really enjoyed this biography of Alan Turing. I agree with others that the book is very long with extremely complicated ideas and concepts presented. To me it could not have been made shorter without damaging the author's ability to really get the story across. We could not come to know the man, Turing, without going through all the detail of his childhood, education, books read that influenced his thinking and perceptions, and his general take on life. I agree that this occasionally felt a bit laborious at times in the reading, but it was necessary. Further, the author's insights offered great depth to the experience of life in Europe, India, Great Britain and America in the first fifty years of the 1900s. The culture, biases, prejudices and scandals of the time are brought into high relief through Turing's life and experiences.

I usually hate epistolary novels but in this case I loved hearing the letters exchanged between Turing and his family, friends and other scholars. It allowed us to hear Turing's own words and voice. This really brought the story to life for me.

I thought that the narration was gently done with great care. I did not find issue with mis-speaking or stumbles other reviewers have commented on here in reviews. Yes it was plodding and careful, but I thought it went well with the subject matter.

Recommended if you love a really good biography and want to know more about the origins of the computer and the experience of code breaking in WWII. Patience is required to let the story unfold, but I just loved it.

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71 of 75 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Anthony on 26-04-15

An insight into the birth of the modern age

While Mr. Turing's personal life became an issue in the early 1950s, the impact of his contribution to modern technology and the advent of computers cannot be underestimated.

This book takes us from the very beginning where mathematics and computation led to the development of computers.

Alan Turing was one of the great intellects of his day.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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