Not for the math-phobic reader, but a treat for those who like challenges.

ONE TO NINE

THE INNER LIFE OF NUMBERS

A mother lode of lore and learning about the digits.

Hodges (Mathematics/Oxford Univ.; Alan Turing: The Enigma, 1983) has much to say about logic, computers, binary (and other base) notational systems, encryption and randomness. As is typical of books on numbers, the chapters proceed from one to nine, exploring characteristics of each number, but they are also (as is typical of Hodges) jumping-off points for loftier concepts. Chapter “One” duly discusses unity, but before long we are introduced to zero, primes and why their number is infinite, set theory and Kurt Gödel’s cunning theorems on undecidability in mathematics. Two themes are also introduced: Sudoku puzzles (including the fiendish “Killer” Sudoku) and the antipathy between English scholars G.H. Hardy, who gloried in the uselessness of pure math, and Lancelot Hogben, who saw it as an important tool in all human commerce and industry. As later chapters reveal, discoveries involving pure number theory turn out to have surprising utility. Thus “quaternion” multiplication (don’t ask) is “vital to quantum mechanics” and has applications in computer games and in controlling roll, pitch and yaw in spacecraft. And so it goes, as Hodges relates findings about the geometry of curved spaces to general relativity or the Fibonacci series to the growth of flowers. No book on numbers would be complete without a discussion of magic squares, the golden mean, probability theory and various formulations of the natural logarithm base e. To this add Hodges’s prodigious knowledge of music (harmonics), physics and cosmology (the Higgs boson, string theory, multiverses), plus developments in modern math, and you have a formidable mix that dazzles but will likely overtax most readers. This highbrow fare is packaged in airy, witty prose, complete with Anglo-American cultural references and the occasional political dig.

Not for the math-phobic reader, but a treat for those who like challenges.

Pub Date: May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-393-06641-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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