Great fun and the perfect gift for any math-phobic person, young or old.

THINKING IN NUMBERS

ON LIFE, LOVE, MEANING, AND MATH

A mathematical savant finds the beauty of numbers in unexpected places.

Tammet (Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind, 2009, etc.), a man in love with numbers, reveals more about the mysteries of his mind in this delightful, diverse collection of essays. His topics include the concept of zero, the calendar, prime numbers, chess, time and statistics, but happily, readers need have no previous mathematical skills or knowledge. Several of his pieces have an autobiographical component. His essay on infinity shows him as a young boy discovering the infinity of fractions between two points on his walk home from school, and readers learn of his amazing memory in his account of reciting aloud the decimals of pi to 22,514 places at the University of Oxford’s Pi Day. His insights are startling: Tammet sees connections between time tables and proverbs, between prime numbers and haiku, and between rhetoric and math. Trivia fans will find memorable items: His discussion of counting among different cultures reveals that in Icelandic, the word for "four" differs depending on whether one is counting sheep, buses or birthdays, and there is even one astronomer’s formula for calculating the number of planets in the galaxy with communicative life. Far from didactic in tone, Tammet fills his essays with stories of real people, from Omar Khayyam to Stephen Jay Gould, from Archimedes and Pythagoras to Tolstoy and Shakespeare, and from Einstein to the author’s own mother. The author’s fascination with numbers takes him on a wide-ranging tour of history, literature and science, and readers who choose to join him are in for a mind-expanding trip.

Great fun and the perfect gift for any math-phobic person, young or old.

Pub Date: July 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-18737-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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