A robust, engaging and exciting biography.

ADA'S ALGORITHM

HOW LORD BYRON'S DAUGHTER ADA LOVELACE LAUNCHED THE DIGITAL AGE

The story of Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), the brilliant mathematician and the daughter of the poet Lord Byron, who likely wrote the first computer program in the early 1840s. Due to her gender, however, her research was overlooked, and another two centuries passed before computers became a reality.

Despite the fact that Ada was Lord Byron’s only legitimate daughter, her mother deemed him unfit to raise her and left him when Ada was just 1 month old. Her father’s reputation made Ada famous by association, and throughout her life, this recognition connected her with some of the era’s most interesting and accomplished people, including the mathematician Charles Babbage. As a child, Ada was fascinated by mathematics and demonstrated an “imaginative approach to science.” Through sheer force of will, she managed to obtain an education rarely available to women in the 19th century and was therefore able to recognize the profound potential in Babbage’s lifelong obsession, a machine he called the “Analytical Engine,” designed to make calculations. Babbage considered his invention to be purely mathematical, but Ada realized that the possibilities were much grander—that the machine could be capable of “weav[ing] algebraical patterns,” a sophisticated idea that did not yet exist at the time. In her writings, she clearly laid out these early concepts of computer science, but because she was female, she was essentially ignored. Essinger (Spellbound: The Surprising Origins and Astonishing Secrets of English Spelling, 2007, etc.) presents Ada’s story with great enthusiasm and rich detail, painting her life as one that was rich with opportunity and access but stifled by sexism. Ada continues to inspire, and by using her own voice via letters and research, the author brings her to life for a new generation of intrepid female innovators.

A robust, engaging and exciting biography.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1612194080

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Melville House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more