Crypto: NSA vs. Tech Industry

Crypto, by Stephen Levy

I read this book over a decade ago, so my memory is a bit faded, but I can't help feel that is has helped prepare me to better contextualize this year's events regarding Edward Snowden, the NSA, etc. It is a fast, enjoyable read, but a serious one nonetheless. It gives an historical account regarding the rise in cryptography, who many of the major players were, and shows how ever since the beginning (we're talking just post WWII) there has been a constant tension between the government and industry about just how secure cryptography should be.

As belied by its subtitle, the book ultimately takes a glass-half-full outlook regarding the security of electronic systems and the internet, but it should be remembered that the book was written pre-9/11 (and published just after). Nonetheless, from what I remember, Levy is not naive about the need for continued vigilance in the future, although after all these years, that could just be me projecting my position onto his. Of course, we now know how the next 12 years played out, but since no one is telling the story that leads up to that point, I HIGHLY recommend that you pick up this book and put in on the top of your reading list. You won't be sorry you did.