Author(s): Andrew Hodges
The official book behind the film, The Imitation Game, this is a dramatic portrayal of the life and work of Alan Turing, one of Britain's most extraordinary unsung heroes, and one of the world's greatest innovators.
This is the official story that has inspired the British film, The Imitation Game, a nail-biting race against time following Alan Turing, the pioneer of modern-day computing and credited with cracking the German Enigma code, and his brilliant team at Britain's top-secret code-breaking centre, Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II. Turing, whose contributions and genius significantly shortened the war, saving thousands of lives, was the eventual victim of an unenlightened British establishment, but his work and legacy live on.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown released a statement of apology in 2009 on behalf of the British government for the "appalling" treatment of Turing.
This book has certainly cleared up a lot of the questions I had following the film. It concerns me that Benedict Cumberbatch's Turing seemed to stray dramatically from biographical evidence. The film paints him in a dangerously stereotypical way, as the lone genius, unable to work well with others and with little care for his fellow humans. It would seem, though, that Turing was a well-liked person, albeit one who didn't care very much what people thought of him, especially concerning his sexuality. If you saw and enjoyed the film, I'd definitely recommend this book. It is a long read though, and does have a tendency to go into more technical detail that I personally found necessary. That said, I'm a humble arts graduate and not exactly mathematically inclined, so these passages may be of great interest to those who understand them. There are a lot of moral and ethical questions about the powers that machines ought to have and their ability to do complex, seemingly human things such as playing chess. Hodges wrote this pre-Internet and desktop computer, so the reader has to fill in some blanks as to where Turing's work eventually led. Towards the end there is quite a bit about the attitudes towards homosexuality, especially in the post-war period, which are both absurd and incomprehensible from a twenty-first-century liberal viewpoint. Although we still have a long way to go, it's certainly interesting to see how much attitudes have changed. For me the human story was what kept me reading. I think that it's a story that needs to be told and shared, particularly considering that the film, while well-made and emotionally charged, changes many of the facts. - Holly
Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, this is the official film tie-in for The Imitation Game, a the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain's top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.
"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" -- Douglas Hofstadter New York Times Book Review "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 "Andrew Hodge's book is of exemplary scholarship and sympathy. Intimate, perceptive and insightful, it's also the most readable biography I've picked up in some time" Time Out "One of the finest scientific biographies ever written" New Yorker "Save your money for the forthcoming new edition of Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, regarded by many as one of the greatest biographies of anyone, let along Turing" -- Robert Matthews BBC Focus Magazine
Andrew Hodges is Tutor in Mathematics at Wadham College, Oxford University. His classic text of 1983, since translated into several languages, created a new kind of biography, with mathematics, science, computing, war history, philosophy and gay liberation woven into a single personal narrative. He is an active contributor to the mathematics of fundamental physics, as a follower of Roger Penrose. See www.turing.org.uk for further material.