Since it does provide much of the foundation for modern societies and the applications are commonly covered with very effective disguises, mathematics is both a pillar and a whipping post. More misunderstood and hence feared than any other subject, it is the only one where it is fashionable and acceptable to profess ignorance. The only solution to this problem is to gently explain how valuable it is and let the economic realities of mathematical knowledge take control. In this book, Stein puts forward many valuable points concerning how necessary mathematics is.
While I do endorse the book, there is one negative point that must be made. The title should be different. One of the points in the book is that mathematics is much more than just number manipulation. Although this is well-known to mathematicians, it is a very common misconception. Therefore, the emphasis on numbers present in the title is unfortunate, but probably necessary for marketing purposes.
Now that the ranting is complete, it is time to praise the interior of the book. All of the points are significant and well made. Stein writes very well, explaining topics in a manner that keeps understanding within the range of the target audience, which is the intelligent layperson. His multiple explanations as to why the product of two negative numbers is positive is excellent. In my career, I have encountered several very educated people in technical fields who really did not understand why this is so. They had simply accepted it because they knew it worked, but had always been afraid of raising the question for fear of embarrassment.
Another point that cannot be emphasized enough is the sudden appearance of a "miracle"(reviewer word) number. These are numbers that are put forward to justify a point and are not subject to critical review. After that, they are accepted at a level that makes the belief in them an act of faith. Honestly, is nature so inefficient in anything that humans really use only 10% of their brains? This is an absurd number that has been repeated so many times that it is accepted as gospel. Stein does his part to help clear up some of these problems. However, it would have been better if more time had been spent in this area.
While there is some strength in numbers, the real power lies in the effective use of them, which is the realm of the underlying mathematics. This book contains many valuable lessons on why mathematics, rather than money, makes the world go round.