The Man Who Knew Too Much

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer

Book - 2007
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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.

Publisher: London : Phoenix,, 2007, c2006.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780753822005
Branch Call Number: 510.92 LEA
Characteristics: 319 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.


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LPL_IlkaI Dec 07, 2017

If you are interested in learning more about Alan Turning, yet are looking for a smaller read than Andrew Hodges' The Enigma, then this is the book for you! I cannot recall a book that kept me not only intrigued, but learning. When Leavitt touches on the intricacies of Turing's work, it does feel like you are reading a tech manual, yet it really is invaluable as it demonstrates and helps you understand the true genius of Turing's beautiful mind. I cannot recommend this book enough. Read this then watch (or re-watch!) the film, The Imitation Game, and your heart will break in ways that you could not have imagined!

BoyOhBoy Jul 24, 2013

Biographer David Leavitt - who is also a great novelist, by the way - writes Turing's story through the lens of his homosexuality. It's arguably the best approach, considering the fact that once exposed, Turing lost his job, his dignity, his reputation and was hounded until he took his own life. Including Turing's "gayness" is hardly gratuitous.

Oct 24, 2012

Outstanding I highly recommend this book. First and foremost that sexuality is important to us, and this biography finally deals with how it affected the man. The man who was very much apart in the defeat of the Nazi's, and without question the computers we use today. If you are still troubled with a discussion on homosexuality, than you will be upset with this book. The younger generation will find it fascinating.

Nov 29, 2007

The author brings nothing new, relying heavily on long quotations from other authors who understand their subject. The frequency of occurrence of the word "homosexual" and the relentless implication that Turing's life revolved around sex is insulting. Such innuendo is more suitable for the dark corners of a gay-pride magazine.

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