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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin | Spring 2015

Robert R. Kracke Book Reviews tion Commission because of the use of “St. Petersburg” instead of “Saint Petersburg,” or the failure to write out the word “Building” or “Apartment” in the address line. Gessen goes on to say “ . . . now that Putin was running the country, he was restoring the late-Soviet mechanisms of control . . . he was building a tyranny of bureaucracy.” Gessen also describes some of the methods of KGB annihilation. The enemy would place a substance on the lightbulb in a bedroom. When the light was turned on, the heat from the bulb would melt the substance and thereby poison the occupant of the room. On other occasions, the KGB would use polonium, a very rare and highly-radioactive substance. In short, Putin does not tolerate whistle blowers very well. Where does this leave the common Russian population? Most probably, fearful, careful, and uncontroversial. How Masha Gessen has stayed alive to write this book, along with magazine articles appearing in Vanity Fair magazine, is a mystery. She recounts several of the Russian oligarchs who were relegated to jail, murdered, or suffered confiscation of property. This reviewer and his wife took a Baltic cruise some years ago while Putin’s presidency was in its infancy. One stop was St. Petersburg, and while the city is one of the most beautiful in the world, its living quarters are drab and unattractive. On an excursion to one of the palaces, our Russian guide had our bus stop before a drab looking building that had many dated cars in its parking lot. She proudly pointed to one of their new “department stores.” It appeared to this reviewer and his wife to be a run-down K-Mart type big box store. On the other hand, some of the churches and palaces are things of wonder and grandeur, though the churches are not used for religious purposes any longer. If you are interested to learn more about the man who has covertly invaded neighboring countries, and to better understand why Russia is under so many international sanctions today, this book might be a good starting point. It has led this reviewer to deeper research into the personality and leadership of “The Man Without A Face.” Where this book differs from the motion picture is that while he did have a somewhat platonic relationship with Joan Clarke, their engagement to be married was severed when he revealed to her his homosexuality. This short book will take about one to two hours of reading to digest the life of Alan Turing but, then again, the motion picture is about that long. Turing created a test to determine whether or not a computer could conceivably do what humans do. His prediction was, “I believe that in about fifty years’ time, it will be possible to produce computers, with a storage capacity of ‘mathematical computation...,’ to make them play the imitation game so well that an average interrogator will not have more than a 70% chance of making the right identification after five minutes of questioning.’” (emphasis added). This book also discusses the liars’ paradox – “If I tell you I am a To bring these two reviews to a proper conclusion, Winston Churchill must be quoted as saying that “Russia was, and is, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” G Editor Robert R. Kracke Alan Turing: Unlocking The Enigma by David Boyle Endeavour Press Limited, 2014 This short book is, this reviewer is told, a more accurate rendition of the life of Alan Turing than the motion picture presently showing in movie theaters, Imitation Game, which exercises more than literary license in depicting the life of Mr. Turing. Turing was a precocious child who exhibited genius level intelligence quotients before he was ten years old. He was born and raised in England and is credited with inventing or conceiving of an early computer model that was the precursor of our modern day computer. The name of his first paper revolving around this subject was “On Computable Numbers... .” He believed that the machine he created called “The Turing Machine” was capable of computing anything that is computable. This paper led to the central concept of the modern computer. During World War II, Turing, with other geniuses, broke the German enigma code and, it is said, probably shortened the war by six months to a year. liar, am I telling you the truth?” Birmingham Bar Bulletin/ Spring 2015 29


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin | Spring 2015
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