- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (January 17, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393309347
- ISBN-13: 978-0393309348
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.7 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures Paperback – January 17, 1993
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Here's a delightful little book that combines the joys of mathematical recreation with some fine storytelling. It follows the Arabian adventures of a man with remarkable mathematical skills, which he uses to settle conflict and give wise advice. The tales of his travels involve the solving of mathematical puzzles and sharing insights from the minds of some of history's great mathematicians. In reading it, you can almost smell the spices and feel the desert wind. You just don't find this kind of atmosphere in books about mathematics.
From Library Journal
Puzzle books can be tedious (unless you like that sort of thing), but not this one. First published in Brazil in 1949 by the mathematician Julio de Melo e Sousa (Tahan is the imaginary Arab author he claimed to have translated), it is a series of delightful "Arabian nights"-style tales, with each story built around a classic mathematical puzzle. The puzzles fit into the stories so naturally that they are a necessary part of the fantasy. The hero is a Persian mathematician and mystic named Beremiz who uses his powers of calculation like a magic wand to amaze and entertain people, settle disputes, find justice and, finally, win the heart of a beautiful princess. Reading the stories is as much fun as trying to solve the puzzles. For adults and children.
- Amy Brunvand, Fort Lewis Coll. Lib., Durango, Col.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
If you love the Thousand and One Night, and stories of ancient Arabia and their famous mathematicians, this gem will transport you back to those times.
HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!
I found this to be witty and engaging and enjoyed trying to solve the problems before the actual end of the story. I even managed this a couple of time. If I have to nitpick I;d point out that as a Persian Beremiz is not an arab. That would be nitpicking though and in no way spoils the story. The ending is bittersweet but happy. Read it to children, read it to test your skills in logic. Whatever reason you choose to read this book you will enjoy it. It truly does deserve a wider audience.
Such a religious overtone might disqualify its use in some intolerant secular public schools. The caricature of the Islamic Golden Age culture might put off scholars of the era. Perhaps it would insult a wide range of modern Islamic "post-Golden age" practitioners. For that reason, it is not a book one would probably risk introducing into many classrooms. For an audience which can treat it as a quaint tall tail of the "Arabian Nights" genre, it stands alone. For a parent patiently working through the math & religious material with a young reader, I'd raise my initial rating an additional star to 3. I just wish the author of numerous books would have included a higher quantity and quality of puzzles in the one book that became popular enough to be translated into English.
Some better books for elementary/middle schoolers are:
Pappas, T. (1997). The adventures of Penrose the mathematical cat. San Carlos, CA: Wide World Publishing.
Pappas, T. (2004). The further adventures of Penrose the mathematical cat. San Carlos, CA: Wide World Publishing.
Enzensberger, H. M. (2000). The number devil: a mathematical adventure. New York, NY: Holt.
Some better books for a mixed middle/high school audience would be:
Gardner, M. (2006). The colossal book of short puzzles and problems. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.
Kordemsky, B. A. (1992). The Moscow puzzles: 359 mathematical recreations. New York, NY: Dover.