When we hear that math is both the most noble endeavour of our species and that it was born in Europe, we naturally tend to be suspicious. Few writers could be as well-qualified to write about ancient math across the world as George Gheverghese Joseph, whose The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics
is a bright example of clear exposition and argument. Though the topic might intimidate those averse to mathematics, history, non-Western cultures or some combination thereof, the book is essential for any reader who seeks a clearer understanding of any one of those. Joseph doesn't make things easy for non-mathematicians or non-historians, but the pleasure of meeting his challenge is robust. He explains ancient African, American and Asian methods of counting and manipulating numbers with ease, paying particular attention to the historical development and interrelationships between cultures. When discussing systems of mathematics as complex as those taught in ancient India and China, Joseph includes sample problems and discussions to help the interested student see numbers as past learners did. The revised addition includes a lengthy section entitled "Reflections" that updates and expands much of the material. Few readers will be able to match Joseph's grasp of both history and mathematics, but all will find The Crest of the Peacock
as delightful and elegant as its subjects. --Rob Lightner
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "Enthralling. . . . After reading it, we cannot see the past in the same comforting haze of age-old stories, faithfully and uncritically retold from teacher to pupil down the years. . . . Invaluable for mathematics teachers at all levels. (New Scientist
Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "What is valuable here is the unified approach that Joseph brings . . . and the non-technical clarity that the attempt to reorder historical priorities and educate his readers out of their European prejudices requires. (Times Literary Supplement
--This text refers to the