The mathematically-minded reader may be interested in this popularized discussion of the number concept and its relation to mathematics, physics and philosophy. The subject is explored from prehistoric times down through the present day, with the major portion of the book centered around the Greek mathematician Pythagoras. Replete with incident and bite of human interest, the book should come to life, but it never does. It is arch, talky, and pretentiously learned in spots, so that the reader will find the job of extracting the substance too much of a chore. An interesting subject but the author has muffed it by trying too hard.