This sampling--not random--of perceptions and speculations about numbers makes for intriguing reading. Part of the intrigue lies in guessing where the author's sentiments lie. He is a knowledgeable Englishman who writes well about the history of mathematics and dearly explains such things as gambling odds, magic squares, probability, and statistics, as well as numerous number oddities and puzzles. What piques the reader is an element of mysticism that runs through the text--a detectable sympathy for ""biorhythmics,"" for example, or a defense of Jungian ""archetypes of order."" Ellis seems to be espousing a latter-day Platonism, or even Pythagoreanism. Number is the key to the cosmos, predating and ordaining the order of things. At the same time he can be amusing and skeptical in discussing numerology and the various cults and sects which examine ancient texts or interpret the future in terms of codes, perfect numbers, and other formulas. Very well. Dip and choose--be pleased to know that John Napier invented the decimal point, that in a group of 60 people it is highly likely that two will share a birthday; appreciate the cleverness of hexagonal honeycombs, Corbusier's metric modulator; and be neutral, skeptical, or enthusiastic about the Power of number.