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REVIEW: "Between Silk and Cyanide", Leo Marks

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKBESICY.RVW 20070322 Between Silk and Cyanide , Leo Marks, 1998, 0-684-86422-3, U$27.50/C$41.00 %A Leo Marks %C 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York
    Message 1 of 1 , May 15, 2007
      BKBESICY.RVW 20070322

      "Between Silk and Cyanide", Leo Marks, 1998, 0-684-86422-3,
      %A Leo Marks
      %C 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
      %D 1998
      %G 0-684-86422-3
      %I Simon & Schuster
      %O U$27.50/C$41.00 212-373-8500
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0684864223/robsladesinterne
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0684864223/robsladesin03-20
      %O Audience n+ Tech 1 Writing 3 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
      %P 614 p.
      %T "Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War"

      In one chapter, Marks recounts a training session, on the encryption
      of messages, with an agent who is intelligent and creative, but
      somewhat careless. Knowing that she has been raised to believe that
      lying is the worst sin, he points out that her mistakes force the code
      to lie to those receiving her messages. It's an intriguing point of

      Those who know about cryptography may find the book rather
      frustrating. There is just enough material to hint at the
      cryptological techniques being used, but at the point you think you
      are going to get down to details the text takes off on another tack,
      or delivers a weak analogy. Yes, those familiar with the field will
      recognize substitution, permutation, one-time pads, traffic padding,
      and attempts at misdirection, but you'd think the secrecy requirements
      would have been lifted off some of this stuff after all this time.

      Marks writes well, though often (ironically, given the ostensible
      subject matter) cryptically. While his stories are fascinating, his
      reticence on some issues weakens a number of them. In the end, this
      volume is about people, not cryptography. Marks writes of bravery,
      foolishness, empire-building, jealousy, and a great many human
      foibles. It is understandable that he avoids thinking or writing of
      events regarding some of those for whom he had the deepest feelings:
      that's a foible, too. Although all of the personal content is
      affecting, Marks, has, perhaps, done a disservice to those closest to
      him by either passing over them too quickly, or by foreshadowing
      tragedies far too long in advance.

      Read as a story about people and their reactions to new situations and
      technologies, the book is both entertaining and informing. And,
      ultimately, security is all about people, anyway.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2007 BKBESICY.RVW 20070322

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... slade@... rslade@...
      You realize, of course, that these new facts do not
      coincide with my preconceived ideas.
      Dictionary of Information Security www.syngress.com/catalog/?pid=4150
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