An energetic effort that successfully communicates the author’s love of mathematics, if not the secrets of calculus itself.



A complex attempt to render calculus accessible.

Strogatz (Applied Mathematics/Cornell Univ.; The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity, 2013, etc.) emphasizes that “calculus is an imaginary realm of symbols and logic” that “lets us peer into the future and predict the unknown. That’s what makes it such a powerful tool for science and technology.” It works by breaking problems down into tiny parts—infinitely tiny—and then putting them back together. Breaking down is the work of differential calculus; putting together requires integral calculus. Early civilizations, including the Babylonians, Greeks, and Chinese, had no trouble measuring anything straight, including complex structures such as the icosahedron, but curves and movement caused problems. Thus, finding the area of a circle by converting it into a 10-sided polygon and measuring the polygon’s area yields a fair approximation. A 100-sided polygon gave a more accurate result. Perfection required a polygon with an infinite number of infinitely small sides, but dealing with infinity was particularly tricky. Invented in its modern version by Newton and Leibniz in the late 17th century, calculus solved the problem. Readers who pay close attention to Strogatz’s analogies, generously supplied with graphs and illustrations, may or may not see the light, but all will enjoy the long final section, which eschews education in favor of a history of modern science, which turns out to be a direct consequence of this mathematics. The best introduction to calculus remains a textbook—Calculus Made Easy by Silvanus P. Thompson—published in 1910 and, amazingly, still in print. Readers who dip into Thompson will understand Strogatz’s enthusiasm. His own explanations will enlighten those with some memory of high school calculus, but innumerate readers are likely to remain mystified.

An energetic effort that successfully communicates the author’s love of mathematics, if not the secrets of calculus itself.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-87998-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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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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