REVIEW: "Between Silk and Cyanide", Leo Marks
- 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
%I Simon & Schuster
%O U$27.50/C$41.00 212-373-8500
%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