US mathematics professor Craig Bauer has published a great book about unsolved cryptograms. Most of these crypto mysteries have been covered on this blog before.
A few years ago, when I met US professor and crypto history expert Craig Bauer at a conference, we talked about our current book projects.
I mentioned that I was writing on a book about the most famous unsolved ciphers. Craig said that he had a similar project in mind. As I was planning to publish my book in German, while Craig writes in English, we realized that our projects, although covering the same subject, were not competing.
My book about unsolved cryptograms was published in 2012. The title of this work is Nicht zu knacken. I covers ten crypto mysteries, including the Voynich Manuscript, the Somerton Man, the Ricky McCormick case and a few others.
In 2013 I started writing my blog Klausis Krypto Kolumne. Many of my articles cover unsolved cryptograms. My readers have been very successful in breaking these, but nevertheless there are still many unsolved crypto mysteries around, while once in a while new ones come to light. When I met Craig Bauer again at a conference, we talked about his ongoing book project and I provided him a list of unsolved cryptograms he might find useful.
Craig Bauer finished a draft version of his book in early 2016. His publishing company asked me to proofread it, which was a great honor for me. In addition, by reading this book I learned about a few unsolved cryptograms I hadn’t known before and about several interesting solution approaches Craig introduces. Of course, I could not write about these interesting pieces of information before Craig’s book was published. So, I could hardly wait until this happened.
Now, finally, Craig’s book about unsolved cryptograms has been published. It is titled Unsolved!.
There’s no doubt that Unsolved! is a great book. Especially, I like the dedication on one of the first pages (see also here):
I’m extremely proud that Craig has dedicated his book to me. In his acknowledgements chapter Craig writes: “Klaus Schmeh led me to many examples I hadn’t previously encountered.” He also states about me: “… most of his work is available currently only in German.” The discussions I had with Craig and other US crypto experts were one of the reasons why I switched the language of this blog to English. There’s a lot of interest in crypto history worldwide, so I don’t want to limit myself to German-speaking readers.
The other person Unsolved! is dedicated to is Rene Stein, librarian of the NSA Crypto Museum.
Many of the topics covered in Unsolved! will sound familiar to readers of Klausis Krypto Kolumne. Here are a few:
- the Voynich Manuscript (the following picture shows Craig with a copy of it)
- the Zodiac Killer
- the Debosnys murder case
- the Somertan man
- the Ricky McCormick case
- the Dorabella cryptogram
- the Masked Man
- the Rubin case
A question many readers of Unsolved! will certainly ask is: Has any of these unsolved cryptograms been solved since publication of the book? In two cases, the answer already now is yes. First, it became recently known that the Masked Man had revealed his passwords already in 2016. Second, the encrypted tombstone Craig presents in his book was deciphered by readers of my blog last year.
The cleartext is: BORN MAY-27 1862 DIED SEPT-2 1915.
Further reading: How Paolo Bonavoglia and Bart Wenmeckers solved a an early 20th century cryptogram