Book recommendation for my father

My dad really enjoyed Neal Stephenson’s The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon. He almost never reads fiction, so I was surprised when he picked these up and read them. Twice.
I’d like to buy him some nonfiction that’s related to the material found in these books. Some topics that I thought might interest him are:

Breaking the Enigma code
Other cryptology topics don’t require a strong math background
Metallurgy in the 1600s
Isaac Newton
Other interesting people from that era, like Huygens or Hooke, or the science they investigated.

I’ve found some books on a few of these topics, but I was hoping for some opinions of Dopers.

It’s been a while since I read any of Stephenson’s books, so please point out anything I might have missed.

The Map That Changed The World takes place a couple of decades later than the end of The Baroque Cycle but is definitely in the spirit of the series. It’s about William Smith and his charting of the first stratigraphic map of England and Wales.

Also, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time is about John Harrison, who discovered the method for determining longitude, which I believe is a problem that’s mentioned several times in TBC.

He might enjoy some of William Poundstone’s books. Poundstone writes lucid science history without getting bogged down in technical jargon. Check out Prisoner’s Dilemma (a personal favorite), Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren’t Fair (and What We Can Do About It), or Fortune’s Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street.

The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh, which I found to be an excellent book for a non-mathy person like myself. It’s a good mix of historical anecdotes about codes and code-breaking and very basic walk-throughs of how the different kinds of codes work.

The Code Book, which I haven’t read, is the obvious suggestion here. The post-70s literature on Enigma is substantial and ranges from the very simple to the pretty heavy going. Andrew Hodges’s classic biography of Turing, The Enigma of Intelligence, still stands up and falls about in the middle in terms of the maths involved. Detailed, but written with an intelligent general reader in mind.
Kahn’s The Codebreakers is pretty hefty, expensive and covers a lot of ground, but is actually reasonably untechnical. The additions to the latest edition really can’t disguise the fact that this was originally written in the Sixties. But still the readable epic history of the subject up till WWII.

Tricky. Dover Publications do still carry their reprint of Agricola’s De Re Metallica.

The big biography - and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future - is still Richard Westfall’s excellent Never at Rest and I gather that this was Stephenson’s main source on Newton. A wonderful book, but not light reading. Cambridge University Press do publish an abridgement in their Cantos series: The Life of Isaac Newton. I don’t know how tough going the abridgement is.
Popular biographies of Newton are published every few years. The most recent ones are by Micheal White and James Gleick. Haven’t read them, but haven’t heard anything terrible about either book.

Hooke has been one of the most fashionable figures for science biographies in recent years, with over half a dozen books on him having been published in the last decade. The two obvious possibilities are the biographies by Lisa Jardine and Stephen Inwood. Personally I found Jardine’s book frequently exasperating for all sorts of reasons, but don’t let that necessarily put you off. Meanwhile, Inwood came at Hooke from a background as a writer on the history of London and that shows in the final result: the book is rich on Hooke’s world, but tends to treat each of his scientific contributions in isolation. It thus (I suspect wrongly) reinforces the received view of Hooke as the supreme scientific tinkerer. But Inwood is definitely a lighter read than Jardine.
Huygens is fairly important in the likes of Jardine’s Hooke biography, but otherwise you’re pretty much out of luck. The first book specifically on him to appear in English for some time has been the recent translation of Andriesse’s monograph on him. Probably not what you’re looking for.

Thanks everyone. I’m pretty sure he’d like the Longitude book. I’m going to go check out the code stuff and the Poundstone books now.

Not so fast – the novels of Arturo Perez-Reverte are right up your father’s alley. I’ve only read El Club Dumas [The Dumas Club, in translation], which was very loosely adapted into the Roman Polanski mystery/suspense film The Ninth Gate. The novel incorporates the following elements: a global secretive society of Alexander Dumas obsessives; secret Dumas texts; rare, Medieval occult books; devil-worship; code-breaking; intrigue, murder, sex, etc.

His other novels are apparently also deal with cultural and historical mysteries, secret subcultures and societies, and so on.