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Mathematicians in a Strange Wilderness

Theorem: Many books have been written about the history of mathematics. This proof could be proven using an exhaustive listing. So, why do new books appear?

Adding a new perspective, Amir Aczel's A Strange Wilderness: The Lives of the Great Mathematicians (2011) focuses on the "eccentric lives and quirky personalities of the foremost mathematicians in history....the alliances, rivalries, pranks, secret societies, thievery, duels, and chance encounters..."

Aczelo tells his stories within geographical and era-based groupings:

  • Hellenic Foundations
  • The East
  • Renaissance Mathematics
  • To Calculus and Beyond
  • Upheaval in France
  • Toward a New Mathematics
The mathematicians included are a plenty: Archimedes, Descartes, Cantor, Kepler, Li Zhi, Khayyam, Hypatia, Leibniz, Newton, LaPlace, Napoleon, Galois, Noether, Grothendieck, Ramanujan, Bourbaki, Poincare, et al.

If you like the history of mathematics, get this book. If you like intersting stories about mathematicians, then you need this book. In short, it is a fun read...and used copies are now available for a small price!

Note: Anyone who enjoys this text should consider reading other texts by this same author, Amir Aczel...all good and all involving the history of mathematics!

  • The Mystery of the Aleph: Mathematics, Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity (2000)
  • Descartes's Secret Notebook (2005)
  • The Artist and the Mathematician: The Story of Nicolas Bourbaki, the Mathematician Who Never Existed (2006)
  • Fermat's Last Theorem (1996)
  • God's Equation (1999)