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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This is a highly illustrated, 202 page, survey of the story of mathematics. It is divided into 9 chapters covering the development of mathematics according to specific topics, such as: numbers, geometry, algebra, the development of analytic geometry and calculus, the geometry of complex shapes (topology) and set theory. These topics are roughly chronological, tracing the development of mathematics from ancient times to the present. Given that the book contains only 202 pages of text and much of this is taken up will illustrations, the treatment of the material is, of necessity, quite cursory.

What I liked - The book gives a reasonable treatment of many subjects - not detailed, but reasonable. The illustrations generally support the text and there are many inserts that provide biographical information or additional specific information on a given topic. There was sufficient information to allow one to search out more on the Internet or from another, more detailed, book. I particularly liked the chapter that covered the development of calculus. It clearly showed that Newton did not develop it from scratch, but built on the firm foundation of the work of others, some of who came very close to finishing the job before him.

What I did not like - There is relatively little mathematical development (as opposed to the historical aspects) and I have a feeling that if someone knew little or nothing about a subject that they would be lost. This certainly was my feeling about the section about set theory. This section did not really tell me much about the subject or why I should care about it. I also found several errors, which made me feel that I had only scratched the surface of the potential flaws in the book. For instance, Julius was not the proper name of Caesar, it was his clan name (he was from the clan Julii; sub clan Caesar). His proper name (or praenomen) was Gaius. This is a trivial point to be sure, one that has nothing to do with mathematics, but one that points to the possibility that there are other lapses in the author's research. (The author is not a mathematician, but has a background in medieval English literature. Were she a mathematician, I would have been much more likely to overlook an error of this sort, which is non-mathematical.) I also found that there was a lack of completeness in some discussions that could mislead one with little mathematical background. For instance, the author includes the old deductive "proof" that 2=1, without pointing out the error (multiplying both sides of an equation by zero) that makes this possible. If this book is given to a mathematical neophyte this discussion is apt to lead to confusion and frustration.

I would recommend this book to a high school student, providing that there was some supervision to help the student over the rough spots. It is also suitable, with the same caveat, for a more advanced student interesting in the history and development of mathematics. I would not, however, recommend this to someone interested in a more detailed presentation. For them, I would recommend Derbyshire's "Unknown Quantity" or Kline's Mathematics for the "Non-mathematician".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2013
Another great read from the author of "The Story of Physics". The Devil is in the detail, as we say, and, sure enough for those who wish to delve, there will be the usual misprints and (unintentional) errors which, make no mistake, exist in all books of any description and of any level.

For the real value of the book, look at a marvelous story, elegantly told and in an aesthetically pleasing way presented on quality paper with many illustrations, color and black-and-white, which help break the often (trust me, I know) mind-numbing monotony of a purely Mathematics narrative.

The book is a veritable treasure trove of who did what and when and why and what was the outcome, making "The Story of Mathematics" read more like a History book, thereby adding to its charm.

The author, very wisely since not a Mathematician, steers clear of opinions on mathematical concepts, presenting rather than analyzing. I particularly enjoyed the little gem - may I call it "conundrum"? - on page 197, "Deductive Proof That 1=2". "Proof" indeed, chuckle chuckle... Yes, the Mathematics look sound until they break down, quite imperceptibly to all but a good Mathematics brain, and from there on, yeah, right, 1 does equal 2, Quod Est Demonstratum.

I urge you to buy this book. It's not just Maths, you know.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2013
Great book, very useful for writing paper from my History of Mathematics senior level class at the University of Houston (MATH4388). A great aid that makes the research a breeze and cuts down on the number of the references used.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2012
My knowledge has been enhanced by this book. Now I know when, by whom and how these systems, methods, and theorems, which we are using were discovered and invented. Very interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 11, 2009
It is my son's book of the month right now. He is homeschooled 7th grader and this is his absolute favorite book right now, he reads it between classes and cannot get enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2013
use in adult education class room frequently, adds to understanding of the "why" in math in a very fun way
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on April 29, 2013
In the kindle version there are several general misspellings and a lot of lack of clarity. mainly in formulas.
It seems to have been scanned from a hard copy with a not-so-good OCR system.
At some points the number and its exponent are in the same size and line: 234 could be 2 to the 34th power of 23 to the 4th power?.
Extremely confusing if you need to follow the details.
I recommend a spell check and a proof read of the text
I missed a section on cryptography, field which seriously depends on mathematics.
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on April 8, 2013
An interesting book to visit the history of mathematcs! Generally, It is a soft read but sometimes the book slips, resulting in boring parts. The author sequenced the book in a good way to feel how the maths development ocurred!
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on March 17, 2015
Amazing book, exciting information, logical dates, and easy narrative.
I had to create an outline of Math history, and this book was more than what I needed.
As you will start the first page, you will find yourself attached to it!
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