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Algebra Unplugged [Paperback]

by Jim Loats, Kenn Amdahl
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 1, 2013 0962781576 978-0962781575 1
A lighthearted, sometimes irreverent introduction to the concepts, vocabulary and strategies of first year algebra. Designed for people who learn best by reading, it includes no exercises. Beginning with some pre algebra concepts, like working with fractions, it explains linear equations, quadratic equations and graphing in easy to understand, non frightening language. Ideal for people who think they hate math to read before they take the class or as a supplement during it. It provides an additional explanation to the confused and comfort for the fearful. For nearly twenty years this book has been helping math-phobes survive their most dreaded class.

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Algebra Unplugged + Calculus for Cats + There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings
Price for all three: $39.43

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Algebra Unplugged is unlike any other mathematics text about algebra. Through the use of creative analogies, the authors explain the areas that are often stumbling blocks for students. -- Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School

An excellent and enjoyable book. Worth having several copies around to loan to students. -- The American Mathematical Monthly

It's a remarkable little book by Kenn Amdahl, a poet and former math-phobe and Jim Loats, a math professor. Be advised that Algebra Unplugged does not take the approach that your high school math teacher and textbook took. It certainly answers some basic questions differently. Amdahl and Loats cover pretty much all the topics of first-year algebra and a great deal of earlier math that many kids don't really have a grip on. And they do it all in just 258 pages of remarkably readable and often hilarious text.

Both of my daughters read the book. One, a true math-phobe probably managed to pass algebra in ninth grade as much because of this little book as because of her teacher. My other daughter profited as well, though she's a math lover. Bruce M. Smith, managing editor. -- The Phi Delta Kappan, Feb 1998

Sometimes, despite endless explanations by teachers and dozens of homework assignments, students don't always grasp algebra. Some ask for help, others turn to books, hoping that one will explain things in language they can understand. This may be the book they are looking for. Explanations are short, humorous, and non technical. The authors convinced this reviewer that there is value in sneaking up on a potentially intimidating subject in this way, although I was not so sure at the beginning. -- Appraisal-Science Books for Young Adults

The book contains no exercises. Instead, it simply explains the concepts, vocabulary and strategies of algebra in understandable terms. -- Zentralblatt fuer Didaktic der Mathematik

The innovative author of There Are No Electrons asked math professor Jim Loats to teach him algebra. The result is this wonderful book which explains the basic concepts, vocabulary and strategies of algebra. No exercises, just clear writing, humor and information. -- The Genius Tribe

The volume's easy pace and the use of a game as a metaphor probably will appeal to the casual learner. The book's gentle, conversational, gamelike approach may be sufficient to reach the 'unreachable.' -- Science Books and Films

From the Back Cover

"If you or anyone you know is frightened by algebra, then this entertaining, simply written book is an excellent way to overcome that fear. I know of no more painless way to master the basic concepts of algebra. Let's hope the authors will take up the challenge of a similar book about calculus!" Martin Gardner, author of The Night is Large

"I loved it!" Sheila Tobias, author of Overcoming Math Anxiety

"Ever read an algebra book for fun? Ever thought you would want to? Algebra Unplugged is just that sort of book- and innovative approach that does a great job taking the mystery and fear out of algebra. It's not a text book. You don't have to ever lift a pencil while reading it. Fascinating explanations of all the players in a first year algebra course. A must for anyone who is going to take algebra, dreaded it while taking it, or wants to brush up on it." Theoni Pappas, author of The Joy of Mathematics

"Algebra Unplugged is geared for the majority who are not good at math. Told with humor and understanding, it is an enjoyable book to read." Joan Harris, The Institute for Science and Society

"I very much enjoyed the book. A math book with lawyer jokes and stories of flogging tenors. It doesn't get any better than that." Thomas Seidenberg, Phillips Exeter Academy

"This book discusses algebra in a non-threatening, fun way." ERIC Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Clearwater Publishing Company Incorporated; 1 edition (November 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0962781576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0962781575
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

After 89 Real Publishers rejected There Are No Electrons, I formed Clearwater Publishing Company to publish it myself. That was over twenty years ago; the book has sold about 100,000 copies and continues to sell well. Thank you to everyone who has bought it.

Then I wrote two math books with Jim Loats, Ph.D.- Algebra Unplugged and Calculus for Cats. I also published my humorous novel, The Land of Debris and the Home of Alfredo. In answer to the hordes of people who ask me, hey, Kenn, how can I write better myself so I can live your cushy lifestyle, I published Joy Writing: Discover and Develop Your Creative Voice. Although, I must point out that "cushy" isn't the first word that springs into most folks' minds to describe my lifestyle, especially people to whom I am married. But I do enjoy writing and that book describes my own philosophy about it.

While I was driving into the mountains, a voice whispered this sentence into my ear: "Some people say I ain't smart enough to have did what I done." The imaginary voice cracked me up. I spend so much time trying to write better, the idea of writing a book that was, at best, grammatically inconsistent seemed liberating and fun, only I had no idea for a story. When I got home, I tried to write in that voice and the result, a few months later, was "Jumper and the Bones." It's a sweet and sometimes funny little novel. I released it as a Kindle book and have gotten some really great feedback. But don't buy it if bad grammar irritates you. That's just how Jumper talks. I had not thought about the market, but it turns out that some kids enjoy the book at least as much as adults.

When a friend became sick and lost the use of her legs, I started trying to learn about ALS and other neurological diseases. I became fascinated by the various theories about the causes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, MS, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Disease. Some of the theories are bizarre, some make sense, some are receiving lots of attention and research money-- yet I'd never heard about them. I kept notes as I did my research and finally compiled the entire project into a little book called "Revenge of the Pond Scum." Some very impressive scientists have read it, given me great feedback (as well as suggestions that I've incorporated). It's an easy read if you're interested in biology. So far, I've only released this as a Kindle book and an E-pub book for the Nook reader.

Over the last couple of years I started blogging, because everyone says authors "need" to blog. Once a week or so I write about my tropical fish, or politics, or gardening. Sometimes I chat about writing or promoting books. Sometimes the entire post is one of my poems. My blog is called "The Wordguise Alembic;" predictably, I put together a collection of sixty or so blogs into a kindle book called "The Wordguise Alembic Volume One." Besides blogs and poems, it contains lengthy excerpts from each of my other published books, as well as chapters from two of my books in progress. It's an easy way to sample them all and choose which one you might like to read all the way through. It's now time to assemble Volume Two.

My little publishing venture has led me to meet many interesting folks, from famous guys like Dave Barry and Clive Cussler to folks as obscure as myself. I've gotten neat letters from Ray Bradbury, Tom Robbins and a host of others, as well as from prisoners, folks in the White House, students and hopeful writers of all kinds. Writing introduced me to my tribe, and it's a cool bunch of people. I've had some fun surprises, as well. Famed inventor Dean Kamen was asked on the radio about his favorite books and he mentioned Calculus for Cats at some length. I discovered that Encyclopedia Britannica had recommended one of my math books. Once, at a bluegrass festival five hundred miles from home I saw someone in the audience reading Algebra Unplugged. I had to show them my driver's license to convince them I was one of the authors. At a lunch for local writers, I introduced myself to a guy whose eyes got wide as he shook my hand. "I've HEARD of you!" he said in astonishment. I do not, apparently, look like a guy someone might have heard of.

I also write songs and play guitar. I've performed on a few CD's and set my coffee cup down on even more. I was in the acoustic group "Cottonwood" for ten years or so; we released two CD's. Each included a few of my originals. My next musical project will be a CD of some 200 year old Irish folk songs that vanished from the earth until one of my sons gave me a book published in 1808 and I figured them out. I spent weeks researching each song and its creator; those stories are as interesting as the songs themselves. I might consider making it a kickstarter project. Once I get that project out the door, I'll probably get more serious about trying to record and release more of my own originals.

I like to garden, and when the harvest isn't so impressive, I let the plants go to seed, collect the seed, and try to convince my wife that's what I was going for all along. I harvest peaches from a half dozen trees I raised from seeds. I've recently gotten fascinated with growing mushrooms and have jars of mycelium lurking all around my office. I also make wine and soap and buttermilk, which is fun as long as you remember which one you're doing at any given time. I'm a defensive mechanic who will try to fix the problem that has stranded me at the side of the road for a long time before I call someone who knows what he's doing. Similarly, I will repair my own plumbing until my clothes are just too soaked, and will wire a light switch when asked to do so. I am rarely asked.

I've been married to my beautiful and very patient high school sweetheart for over 40 years now. We have three grown sons, a couple of cats, a bunch of guppies, and some banana slugs in a terrarium. I've been involved with a number of book-related non profits in Colorado, and served on the board of directors for a few. I've written a half dozen unpublished novels and may release another one or two (at least as Kindle books) just to see how that goes. But if you're listening, and your name is "Random House" I'd sure be willing to let you have a chance at them first.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This algebra book turns Greek into plain English! December 4, 1998
Format:Paperback
Having made it through college in the 70's without taking a math course, I am now wanting to learn algebra. I took it in high school and I was great at memorizing formulas. I now want to know the basis of math and I started with Algebra.
Algebra Unplugged is the book that I have dreamed of. If I had this in high school I could have gone a long way. Every parent should buy it for their school age children and even read it themselves. It stresses concepts not formulas. It shows you why we do the things we do in algebra.
After having it a week, I was solving polynomial equations on a drink napkin while flying from back east.
Great book! Math teachers - have a bake sale and buy this for all of your students!
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, helpful, and very readable book January 18, 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My main problem with algebra is that no one ever told me what it really is, besides a bunch of equations. I also couldn't understand why factoring was so important.
I'm happy to report that this book tells you what algebra is for and why factoring is important, and much more, and does do in a way that even the math-challenged can easily grasp. It also reassures the reader by saying that it's okay to need to read and reread the book to get a firm grasp on concepts. It is possibly the only math book I have ever read that didn't make me feel like an idiot, make giant assumptions, or skimp on the explanations. Although I don't think I will ever be close friends with math, this book makes it possible to negotiate an armed truce and (I hope) to succeed in college algebra after 10 years of doing no math more strenuous than balancing my checkbook.
The only drawback to this book is the embarrassing number of typos, but they detract only slightly from the text.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great help for relearning algebra January 21, 2001
Format:Paperback
This book, together with Practical Algebra, has bolstered my confidence, as I return to school after many years, for my MBA. Not having taken a math class in 30 years, my skills were beyond rusty. Algebra Unplugged is a light-hearted look at algebra concepts -- especially for the non-math majors among us -- and was a great start. I think I read through it in just a few days. The only problem for me was that it didn't contain any sample problems or self-tests, so I added Practical Algebra and that really helped.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Algebra Unplugged April 7, 2000
Format:Paperback
As a student who somehow stumbled through algebra, calc and differenial equations I wish that this book had existed when I started out. It revealed "secrets" of algebra to me that would have made my life much easier had I known about it. Have you ever wondered whether algebra is just some game? Read this book to find out the rules.
I couldn't put this book down and ended up finishing it in 3 days. It was a nice easy read with just the right mixture of humor and facts. I suggest that anyone who will take, is taking or has taken an algebra course should read this book. They give you great insight without pounding you on the head with a bunch of homework!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC BOOK ON ALGEBRA!!!!!! September 10, 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
THIS HAS GOT TO BE ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON ALGEBRA CONCEPTS THAT THERE IS ON THE MARKET. I AM OVER 60 YRS. OLD AND WANTED TO STUDY ALGEBRA. I ONLY WISH THERE EXISTED MATH TEACHERS WITH THE ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE CONCEPTS AS CAN THESE GENTELMEN. WOULD GIVE 10 STARS IF POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Kenn Amdahl has succeeded in making algebra look like a game and maybe he is right.

I recommend this book to anybody who has the slightest interest in the subject. It reads almost like listening to your mathematically inclined buddy exchanging a few words on mathematics over a beer; that's what I felt, two buddies getting together and just shooting breeze over mathematics.

It certainly made me conscious of paying more attention to VOCABULARY and CONCEPTS and less on manipulation.

You won't regret the time you spent on this book nor the money!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Math book August 20, 2002
Format:Paperback
Best of all the authors explain what it is you're doing when you do algebra. Why doesn't it make sense in the real world? Because it's a game. The conventions may seem arbitrary but the rules are not. The authors multiply things like tenors and pigs and divide them by all kinds of non-mathematical things in order to illustrate the logic of mathematical thinking. They also show that people are thinking algebraically even when they don't know they're doing so. This is a great book if you took algebra a long time ago and are not sure you remember the differences between the various mathematical disciplines. It's also good if you are the type who wants everything explained to you in math, rather than taking it on faith. It won't replace the standard textbook, but it will show you how to use it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Math for Readers January 22, 2006
Format:Paperback
If you have a daughter who loves to read but hates math, BUY HER THIS BOOK. She will soon be laughing instead of crying over her math homework, and she'll understand not just how to do math but why the rules work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This book makes up for all the akward tension that arose in algebra class during high school years. I sort of got the drift of the calculation of numbers, yet the other half (which... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mindbody Storm
5.0 out of 5 stars Algebra unplugged
This is an overall good book it hits all of the stron points in algebra and some other mathamatical classes. Read more
Published 8 months ago by KC Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars great buy!!
The book breaks down the steps & helps you understand it. It goes back & gives definitions of a lot of things you forgot or didn't understand. I would recommend this to a friend.
Published 9 months ago by Amanda G Lowrey
5.0 out of 5 stars Algebra Unplugged
I actually bought this book for my neighbor. You see she is going to a community college and is having a very hard time understanding algebra. Read more
Published 22 months ago by John A. Jay
5.0 out of 5 stars Right-brain meets Algebra
This book is an excellent introduction to Algebra. I hesitate to even call this book an introduction because it's much more than that-the understanding it provides ends up opening... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Nathan S. Marlar
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic morale booster if you are planning to take math in college...
I read this book and understood it with out straining myself even after not cracking an Algebra book in decades. In high school I got straight A's in Algebra. Read more
Published on March 5, 2012 by Carlos Rosario
5.0 out of 5 stars Algebra Unplugged
My students who have read this book say, "This is just like you teach!" If you're an unconventional math teacher who is looking for an idea; or if you're a student who can't... Read more
Published on January 25, 2012 by Math teacher
5.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Whisper Net Worked for Algebra Unplugged.
I am rating the ebook version of Algebra Unplugged based on the fact that the entire book was delivered to Kindle App on my iPad in seconds. Read more
Published on September 28, 2011 by MyOpinion
5.0 out of 5 stars Problem fixed! RE: Beware the kindle version!!
After multiple phone calls, they finally fixed it. Hurray! It was a trial, but now you can order this great book on kindle and have it work too! Read more
Published on May 13, 2011 by WJB
5.0 out of 5 stars Algebra for the people who like words better than numbers
I see a lot of kids who need help with their homework. I've been using the explanations from Algebra Unplugged ever since I first read it, and I know those explanations work,... Read more
Published on December 15, 2010 by C. H. Dye
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