52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
An engrossing page turner for the mathematically inclined,
This review is from: Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem (Paperback)
Wow! I just finished this one and was sad to see it end. The writing is so compelling that I had to stay up to finish it in one sitting. If you are not familiar with Fermat's Last Theorem and why it is such a "big deal", let me just tantalize you by saying that it is basically a "generalized" version of the Pythagorean theorem (the one involving right triangles, which you have surely seen if you have ever taken trigonometry in high school), although it asserts that higher forms of the Pythagorean-style equation are unsolvable.
Singh gives an exquisitely detailed history of the problem going all the way back to its ancient Greek roots (i.e. Pythagoras), proceeds through numerous failed attempts to solve Fermat's challenging theorem by the great mathematicians that succeeded him, and finally concludes with the (initially uncertain) triumph of Andrew Wiles, who posessed the genius to prove the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture (which implies the truth of FLT) and solidify a previously precarious bridge to vast new mathematical wonderlands.
If you enjoyed mathematics at some point in your life and think that interest may still be lingering within you, then you may want to get this one fast - your curiousity and admiration will be revived. One of the best mathematical popularizations around, and an historic scientific/intellectual achievement supremely documented.