This book is quite serious scholarship, so one does not encounter the romantic fantasies as for example in Bell's Men of Mathematics. It is certainly worth the effort to read to give one a flavor for the development and evolution of mathematics up through the twentieth century and a little into the twenty-first. I found that because it is serious, I will have to make some extra effort to understand some of the facets of the history addressed. Certainly, some of the topics are discussed somewhat more clearly and understandably in say Wikipedia articles. However, it is advantageous to have a large viewpoint such as given in the book. I teach math at community college and I think that it is helpful to a teacher to have this kind of perspective, even when one teaches only at high school or community college. The book inspired me to look into history more and I plan to do some more investigating. There are many interesting points that the authors bring up. I especially like the way they did not shy away from modern math, which can be pretty abstract. The areas I am interested in investigating further are areas of nineteenth century to the present. One has the impression that while math has tended to become more and more a game, like chess, for the specialist and aficionado, it has also certain elements of great interest that are not so trivial, and join with threads from the past to point into the future. One can have a great deal of difficulty separating the wheat from the chaff in the present moment in contemplating the recent events of the past, as so much of modern mathematics is dominated by fads that come and go. But the grand picture of events over hundreds and thousands of years is quite compelling. I have a basic background in graduate-level mathematics (and have passed Ph.D. quals in math), but I did have trouble understanding a fair amount of the book, especially the discussions of geometry, as my background is weak in that area.
Much of the history of mathematics is taken up with struggles to go beyond rather mundane limitations. "Modern" mathematics is appallingly recent. This is reflected in the weight attached in the discussions of the book to mathematical history that is concerned with such "tedious" details as getting to the point where modern numeration was achieved. The really exciting stuff in math is the more recent developments that have touched our lives with the wonder of mathematical creativity, and the development of modern algebra, analysis and geometry. It took a great deal of time for people to realize the possibility of non-Euclidean geometry, and yet once achieved, new developments came rapidly. I personally would have preferred the authors to have treated the very slow early development of mathematics in a more condensed way, and to have focused more on modern math. On the other hand, I have to admit I found the long history to be interesting as well. Even very simple developments such as the use of zero or negative numbers resulted from humans struggling to progress, often contrary to the dictates of common sense, and in the face of their prejudices. While this does not enlighten one terribly about the most modern mathematics, the story of this struggle is edifying and insightful.