The Man Who Knew Too Much

The Man Who Knew Too Much : Alan Turing and the invention of computers

3.47 (1,060 ratings by Goodreads)
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The story of Alan Turing, the persecuted genius who helped break the Enigma code and create the modern computer.

To solve one of the great mathematical problems of his day, Alan Turing proposed an imaginary programmable calculating machine. But the idea of actually producing a 'thinking machine' did not crystallise until he and his brilliant Bletchley Park colleagues built devices to crack the Nazis' Enigma code, thus ensuring the Allied victory in the Second World War. In so doing, Turing became a champion of artificial intelligence, formulating the famous (and still unbeaten) Turing test that challenges our ideas of human consciousness.

But Turing's work was cut short when, as an openly gay man in a time when homosexuality was illegal in Britain, he was apprehended by the authorities and sentenced to a 'treatment' that amounted to chemical castration. Ultimately, it lead to his suicide, and it wasn't until 2013, after many years of campaigning, that he received a posthumous royal pardon.

With a novelist's sensitivity, David Leavitt portrays Turing in all his humanity - his eccentricities, his brilliance, his fatal candour - while elegantly explaining his work and its implications.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 138 x 200 x 21mm | 234g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Illustrations, port.
  • 0753822008
  • 9780753822005
  • 66,773

Review quote

Leavitt proovides fascinating insights into cryptography...he conveys both the ingenuity of Turing's creations and the complexity of the man * Daily Telegraph * A sympathetic account of Turing's ultimately tragic life * Observer *
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About David Leavitt

David Leavitt is the author of several story collections and novels, including THE BODY OF JONAH BOYD. He teaches creative writing at the University of Florida, Gainesville, where he lives.
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Rating details

1,060 ratings
3.47 out of 5 stars
5 17% (181)
4 33% (346)
3 35% (367)
2 12% (125)
1 4% (41)
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