Novices may be overwhelmed, but for the mathematically inclined, this is a real treat.



Not a formal history of math so much as a “good parts” version of that history.

After a nod to earlier civilizations, Berlinski (A Tour of the Calculus, 1995) begins with the Greeks—in particular, with Pythagoras and Euclid. The Greeks' sheer fascination with numbers and geometrical shapes, and their determination to construct logical proofs of their discoveries, set them apart from all earlier schools of mathematical thought. This questing spirit died out with the more pragmatic Romans, and Christian Europe had little more interest in pure math until the Renaissance. Then the introduction of Arabic numerals, and of the Greek mathematical discoveries kept alive by Arabic scholars, set off a new interest in math. Descartes learned how to map equations on a plane, and Newton and Leibniz independently created what Berlinksi considers one of the two key ideas of Western science: the calculus. Further progress involved moving from the simple counting numbers every child knows: Complex numbers, involving the square roots of negatives, were understood by Leonhard Euler; group theory was jotted down by the young French genius Galois the night before he died in a senseless duel; Lobachevsky and Riemann showed that there were consistent alternatives to Euclid's common-sense geometry; and Cantor opened the doors to infinity, before which all previous mathematicians had halted in fear of their sanity. The 20th century contributed Gödel’s proof that no self-contained logical system can be both complete and consistent, as well as the algorithm, a tool that ranks with the calculus for sheer power. Despite a sometimes condescending tone, Berlinski spins his narrative clearly, colorfully and with surprising thoroughness in such a brief treatment.

Novices may be overwhelmed, but for the mathematically inclined, this is a real treat.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2005

ISBN: 0-679-64234-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Modern Library

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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



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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