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Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games
Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games
by Laszlo Polgar
Edition: Paperback
Price: 13.59

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quantity not quality., 3 Jun 2010
This may be the biggest book of chess challenges, it certainly is not the best. I really don't see the point of more than 50 pages with mates in one, more than 650 pages with mates in two, and more than 100 pages with mates in three. It is certainly good to practice tactics and having a decent collection of mates is very useful, but this is ridiculous. What about all these other combinations; pins, skewers, forks, etc. etc.? Contrary to what the product description wants you to believe the book does not cover a complete range of levels to build chess skills. Let alone that it contains every known checkmate position. The endgame part is more useful, but that part has only 30 pages. If you want to improve your tactics buy Thousand and One Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations by Fred Reinfeld or his 1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate if you want to restrict yourself to mates. These books are also much easier to carry around.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 19, 2014 9:35 PM BST


Challenging Mathematical Problems with Elementary Solutions, Vol. II: Volume 2: Vol 2 (Dover Books on Mathematics)
Challenging Mathematical Problems with Elementary Solutions, Vol. II: Volume 2: Vol 2 (Dover Books on Mathematics)
by A. M. Yaglom
Edition: Paperback
Price: 13.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent collection of mathematical puzzles., 2 Jun 2010
This book has 74 problems from various areas of mathematics. There are problems in geometry, topology, number theory, polynomials, series, and integration theory. The problems themselves cover only 40 pages, but there are no less than 152 pages giving solutions. And if you do not want to whole solution, then there are 12 pages with hints and (very) short answers. There is even a bibliography. The difficulty of the problems varies. Some are easy, but many are very challenging. So it is an excellent book if you like mathematical puzzles, and prefer some variations.


How to Lie with Statistics (Penguin Business)
How to Lie with Statistics (Penguin Business)
by Darrell Huff
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic; once original, now common knowledge., 2 Jun 2010
I bought this book, because of the reviews here, and because I had heard that it was a classic. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed. One reason is that I already knew most of what is discussed in the book. When Darrell Huff wrote it, its contents might have been new, but now much of it is common knowledge. (That's what happens with classics.) In particular, I have read Robert Tufte's books, which deal in a much more extensive and deeper way with how misleading visual information can be.

A more important reason why I was disappointed was that explanations in the book are almost completely verbal. There is hardly a calculation. This means that we have to belief the author's words, whereas I would have found it more convincing if there would have been calculations that would prove the author's claim. It is not as if the calculations would have to be complicated. For example, in the chapter "The Well-Chosen Average" it does not matter how you define the average, it is always easy to calculate. Not showing this is actually a bit insulting of the reader's intelligence.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 1, 2011 1:38 PM BST


Pluto and Charon: Ice Worlds on the Ragged Edge of the Solar System, 2nd Edition
Pluto and Charon: Ice Worlds on the Ragged Edge of the Solar System, 2nd Edition
by Alan Stern
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 39.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you eager to learn more., 30 May 2010
Most people, even those interested in astronomy, probably don't know more than that Pluto is the ninth planet in our solar system, and even that is no longer correct. The reason is that because of its distance and its small size, it is extremely difficult to learn anything about it. This book is the fascinating story about what's is known about Pluto and Charon, the scientist that gave us that knowledge, and how they obtained it.

The book starts with the discovery and how Pluto got its name. Then it goes on to discuss its atmosphere, the discovery of its moon Charon, the determination of Pluto's and Charon's sizes, first maps, the origin of Pluto and Charon, and the relation with Kuiper belt objects. In addition the second edition has an extra chapter discussing the New Horizon mission.

What I particularly like about the book is the fact the authors not only present the results of the studies on Pluto and Charon, but also discuss in quite some detail how scientist got these results. What is even more remarkable is that they do this in such an understandable way. If you are only slightly interested in Pluto and Charon, then you definitely should buy this book.


Mark Phillips And Jon Chappell Guitar Exercises For Dummies Gtr Book/
Mark Phillips And Jon Chappell Guitar Exercises For Dummies Gtr Book/
by Mark Phillips
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.79

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of excellent exercises, but which ones are you going to practice?, 30 May 2010
The book gives exercise for the major and minor scales, arpeggios (major, minor, and seventh), and chords. For each it starts with presenting a number of patterns, and then presents variations in the order of the notes and the rhythms. This leads to a very large number of exercises. The cover mentions 300. I did not count them, but it must be close to that number. In addition many chapters have a few songs that show how the exercises in the chapter can be used. A few short chapters with some general remarks on how to maximize the benefit of the exercises complete the book. So if you looking for stuff to practice, then this is an excellent book. As far as I am concerned only one thing is missing. If you have, say, half an hour to practice each day, then you will not be able to do all the exercises in the book. So which ones are you going to do? Don't look for an answer in the book.


Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos
Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos
by Alan W. Hirshfeld
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe not a sexy subject, but definitely fascinating., 30 May 2010
What makes a good popular science book? It helps when it deals with a sexy subject. Anything about our health will do. The origin of the universe is also good. Sometimes a mathematical subject attracts attention; e.g., the proof of Fermat's last theorem. Parallax however deals with none of these things. In fact, the book's subject went out of fashion around the middle of the 19th century. Nevertheless, this is a great book, very well written, and the subject may not be fashionable, it definitely is fascinating. It describes how the small changes in the position of a star because of the Earth's rotation around the Sun (i.e., the parallax) can be used to determine the distance of that star. It starts with how the distance to the planets was determined in the 16th century, and then discusses the fact that the same procedure was much more difficult for stars, because of the much larger distances. The book then moves to the developments that were needed in the technology of telescopes to tackle the problem, culminating in the telescopes of Fraunhofer in the beginning of the 19th century. Finally it describes the successes of Bessel, Henderson, and Struve to measure the first distances to stars accurately. If you like to read books on science that are not superficial yet don't get mired in irrelevant details, then Parallax is a book for you.


Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World's First Computer
Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World's First Computer
by Jo Marchant
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book about an object that changed our view of ancient astronomy and technlogy., 30 May 2010
This book tells three stories. The first is about the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism. This reads like an adventure story; not one of the most exciting ones, but it is certainly interesting. The second is about the unraveling of what it was for. It is this latter story that has radically changed our view of ancient technology and astronomy. This stories has been, and still is to some extent, surrounded by controversy. The book tells how initially the Antikythera mechanism was studied by few people, and more or less ignored by most other researchers. This did not really change when it slowly became clear how sophisticated it was. In fact, this was simply not believed. The third story is the description of the mechanism itself. The author does this in quite some detail. This story is not finished, because not all of the details of how it originally looked like are known.

Some reviewers have written that the author has been very sloppy in his research. As this book was really my first encounter with the Antikythera mechanism, I don't know if this is really true. It did increase my interest in the subject however. So I do recommend the book.


Fearless Symmetry: Exposing the Hidden Patterns of Numbers
Fearless Symmetry: Exposing the Hidden Patterns of Numbers
by Avner Ash
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.89

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent effort to make a very difficult subject understandable., 29 May 2010
Whether you like this book or not, you cannot deny that the authors have been very brave to write a popular mathematics book on one of the most abstract parts of mathematics. The central topic of this book is Galois Theory. This theory was developed by Evariste Galois to show that it was possible to solve equations of one variable using addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and the extraction of roots only for equations of order less than five. This theory has led to what is now called modern or abstract algebra, which probably ties together more areas of mathematics than any other. The problem is that it deals with many highly abstract mathematical objects. Equations, complex numbers, modular arithmetic, and permutations on the one hand are not so difficult to explain and understand. It is however very different for symmetry, groups and their representations, and elliptic curves. It is amazing how far the authors can reduce the complexity of the mathematics, but the book is not an easy one to read. However, if you are looking for an introductory book on abstract algebra, then this is certainly one to consider.


Charlie Dancey's Encyclopaedia of Ball Juggling
Charlie Dancey's Encyclopaedia of Ball Juggling
by Charlie Dancey
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on ball juggling?, 24 May 2010
This book is a gem. It is not only highly informative, but also a lot of fun to read. It even manages this while being an encyclopedia; one of the dullest formats imaginable. It is has many entries for the complete beginner (there is a cartoon explaining how to juggle the three-ball cascade, and an extensive entry on how to learn this pattern starting with just two balls), but also for the accomplished juggler. (There is lots of stuff if you want to juggle five or more balls.) It has not only information on how to juggle, but it also contains a lot on peripheral topics. I particularly liked the entries on the mathematics of juggling; the site swap notation and the expression that allows you to calculate a number that says how difficult it is to juggle a particular pattern. The cross references are excellent, and just starting at a random entry and following them gives you lots of ideas for new ways to juggle. I should also mention the illustrations that are very entertaining and supplement the explanations in the text very well.


The Mathematics of Juggling
The Mathematics of Juggling
by Burkard Polster
Edition: Paperback
Price: 26.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended to anyone interested in ball juggling., 24 May 2010
The Mathematics of Juggling is a book on the use of mathematics to discover juggling patterns. The book is mainly written for people interested in ball juggling that have a descent background in mathematics, as the results are not only given but are actually derived. However, the book is written very well, and most of it is even understandable if you do not have the required mathematics. In particular, there should not be any problem if you only want to know the results; i.e., an overview of all possible patterns that you can juggle. Juggling diagrams, site swap notation, juggling cards, state graphs, and transition matrices can also be understood without the mathematics. The book has separate chapters on simple juggling, juggling with throwing or catching two or more balls at the same time (multiplexing), and juggling with two or more hands. There is also a chapter on the physics of juggling, a chapter on bell ringing, and a chapter with odds and ends. I recommend this book to anyone interested in ball juggling.


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