An ambitious but overly abbreviated assemblage of arguments.



A collection of short proofs tackling fundamental problems and paradoxes in mathematics. 

Connor bombastically makes it clear that his quarry is the truth, however iconoclastic it might be, and that he has no reverence for the intellectual idols of academic mathematics: “Truth is an outrage; it does not defer to authority.” In that spirit, he challenges some fundamental conventions in modern math: He rejects imaginary numbers and provides what he claims is a disproof of Euler’s famous formula (and uses it to recalculate the speed of light), completes Fermat’s theorem, resolves Cantor’s paradox, and demonstrates the irrationality of pi—all in fewer than 50 pages of terse language and symbol-laden formulae. Obviously, this is a book that’s singularly intended for the mathematically sophisticated. There’s no overriding theme to the essays beyond the author’s ambition, which one can’t help but find impressive. Also, Connor’s command of the subject matter, including the pertinent scholarly literature, is beyond reproach. However, his arguments and proofs are developed so rapidly, and with so little explanation and commentary, that even the most mathematically astute readers will find them hard to parse and not entirely convincing. For example, in a discussion of Cantor’s paradox, the author contends that the notion of a set of all sets is logically impermissible. Not only is this position less than persuasive, given the brevity of its exposition, but he omits any treatment of the paradox’s extraordinary stakes, which, for Cantor, involved humanity’s basic (and errant) intuitions about infinity. Similarly, the author’s jarringly abridged treatment of Euler’s formula—about a page and a half of discussion—glosses over its centrality to complex number theory and trigonometry. In another chapter, Connor provides a solution to a problem that “bedeviled” the philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell in his youth, regarding the nature of propositions, but he neither provides a definition of propositions nor discusses why Russell considered it to be such an important problem. Overall, each section reads like an outline for a longer essay that’s yet to be completed. 

An ambitious but overly abbreviated assemblage of arguments. 

Pub Date: June 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4809-2617-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2018

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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