Cryptography: An Introduction is a translation from the Russian by Sergei Lando. Each chapter is, for the most part, self-contained and written by a different author. I would recommend this book for faculty, and undergraduates that have an understanding of Number Theory and/or Abstract Algebra. Although the book's jacket recommends this book for advanced high school students, and undergraduates in my opinion this is not the "Idiots Guide to Cryptography."
Students and faculty alike will find this book to be an excellent guide/reference to cryptography. The concepts are explained clearly and many references are given for further study. The chapter I found most interesting was chapter 4, which covers the RSA cryptosystem, how to construct large prime numbers, and related issues. The book also contains some interesting examples of cryptography in literature from A. Conan Doyle's The Dancing Men, J. Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, and others.
The old adage "too many cooks spoil the broth" doesn't really hold for this book, but one must keep in mind the way the book is written. Each chapter is self-contained and covers a different topic in cryptography. Although the book can be read straight through, that wouldn't be what I recommend. After reading the first chapter I suggest skipping to the last chapter to work on some of the exercises (answers and hints are provided for those of us who are a little impatient). This will give you an idea of which types of problems in cryptography interest you and which chapters you'd like to read. This book is a smorgasbord of cryptography and covers all the major concepts. So read what you like and enjoy!
Kevin Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is assistant professor of mathematics at Missouri Western State College.