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94 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Setting the gold standard for those that followed.
In or around 1637, Pierre de Fermat wrote in the margin of a maths book notes describing what became known as Fermatean Triples. He claimed to have found an equation that was hard to solve. "I have a truly marvellous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain". That one sentence was to tease mathematicians for centuries. The proposition,...
Published on 6 Nov 2005 by Mr P R Morgan

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3.0 out of 5 stars good reading, little math
This book is well written and reads like a novel. That's the positive part. On the other hand it is full of irrelevant stories that have nothing to do with the topic. Also the author must think his readers are idiots. After all you must at least have some interest in mathematics if you want to read a book about Fermat's last theorem. It's not necessary to explain...
Published 20 months ago by E. Soetens


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb, 22 Feb 2007
By 
Dave (Cardiff, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
I remember reading this during A-Levels, before studying maths at university. I've now finished university and read this book again. Now I remember why I studied maths. I think the book conveys very well that the beauty of mathematics and pursuit of perfection is how it is possible to spend 7 years working on one problem. The history of Fermat's last theorem is fascinating too. Anyone that hates maths because of the way it was taught to them in school should read this.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful and immersive, 23 Oct 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
This is a fantastic book that not only explains the wonder and difficulty of the 'last theorem' but also sheds light on the mathematical community through charming anecdotes and first hand interviews.
The book is a truly brilliant achievement that leaves you wishing you were a genius so you could go and prove some more theorems just for fun! It may help to approach this book with a little maths background, but as long as you have a passion for learning new and interesting things, this is the book for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you buy the latest Jilly Cooper instead of this you WILL go to hell!, 3 May 2011
By 
Crookedmouth ":-/" (As seen on iPlayer) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
This one languished on my bookshelf for the best part of a year as I was too scared to pick it up & start it. What held me back is what will probably put a lot of other potential readers off trying it - the boring old "I'm no good at maths" argument. Although my maths education is probably little above average (a good O Level and a terrible A Level, after which I rallied somewhat to obtain a reasonable HNC maths module) it's //very// many years out of use and it's all I can do to add two numbers up in my head. Given that this book is about a problem that flummoxed the best mathematical minds in the world for over 350 years you'd be forgiven for putting this back on the shelf and choosing something a little simpler. Well, don't even try that...

YOU DON'T NEED ANY MATHS TO READ THIS!

What Singh has done here is to present a hugely complex subject in a hugely entertaining way. The search for the answer to Fermat's riddle reads like a detective story and not a matehematical treatise and it includes a truly absorbing potted history of the development of maths over the years and, from Pythagoras to Fermat to Godel to Wiles, each part has a fascinating human side to it.

Budding mathematicians needn't feel left out as the mechanics of the maths is also included, but it's treated in a gentle way: each step of the problem (and it's solution) is described in a simplified (but certainly not dumbed down) manner and some simple exercises are included in several short appendices. However, take heart! There are several places where elements of the maths are obviously too complex for us mortals and Singh is not afraid to say soo and then gloss over them completely. That may be a disappointment to some, but it's not at all unreasonable in my opinion.

All in all, the net result is a book that is sensitive to its readers, intelligent, interesting and important. It's literally unputdownable and it had the added bonus of tricking me into thinking that I'm a little cleverer than I really am.

I notice there's an inevitable Wills and Kate bio on the bestseller list at the moment. Put your hard earned cash into Andrew Morton's pockets or read something that will make you feel like a genius. The choice is yours.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fermat, 11 Jun 2003
By 
Mark (Ilkley, West Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
I was disappointed to discover that my own, single page, proof of Fermat's last theorem was, in fact, wrong.
This is a cracking story, a great history lesson and you don't need a head for maths to enjoy it.
A suicide, an attempted suicide and a duel all feature in a 350 year attempt to solve a small problem. All because some joker put a note in the margin.
I recommend this highly.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, 5 Jan 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
If you like to read novels that contain intricate solutions to puzzles then this book is for you. If you also find pleasure in the solutions to real puzzles that have endured over 100 of years and have a real significance to the human race then this book will be one of those truly rare events - a virtually perfect read.
I have read very few books that have grabbed my attention like this one. The writing neatly balances the necessary maths explanations (short and written at a level suitable for the mathematically terrified) with the human interest and drama behind Fermat's Last Theorem. You'll emerge from this book with a whole new insight into Maths - and a number of interesting maths 'tricks' to add to your dinner party conversations.
A book you have to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but inferior to "The Code Book", 12 Sep 2007
By 
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
As did most other readers, I thoroughly enjoyed Simon Singh's "Fermat's Last Theorem". Singh uses this holy grail of mathematics to provide an entertaining account of the history of number theory as well as a more detailed description of the years immediately surrounding Andrew Wiles' final proof. This is the second Simon Singh book I've read, the first being "The Code Book". The problem of this compared to "The Code Book" is that it feels rather less interactive and complete. In "The Code Book" Singh manages to really involve the reader in the encryption and code breaking process and only very rarely skips ideas and concepts that are too complicated for the intention of the book. In "Fermat" this is not really the case. We never truly gain an understanding of how Fermat's Last Theorem was actually proved, only a very broad survey of the people and concepts that paved the way. I understand that it is no easy task to present cutting edge mathematics in an easily digestible format, but it seems that once Singh gets into the 20th century he gives up altogether. There are plenty of mathematical appendices to the book, but most of them deal with old Greek proofs of Pythagoras and incidental forays into Game Theory, and not one of them relates to the mathematics directly required in proving Fermat.

Nonetheless this is a very entertaining history of mathematics that I found immensely difficult to put down. If you are interested in mathematical history and how mathematicians experience great discoveries this book has a lot to offer. If you want to learn mathematics, let alone understand how Fermat's Last Theorem was tackled, this can only serve as a historical supplement.

PS Be sure to check out the TV documentary of the same name, available on several well-known online video upload websites.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written, 6 April 2007
By 
Reader (Mordon, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
This book weaves a plot in such a way that you are kept interested and involved, nothing complicated about the ideas included. Something quite different.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mathematics as it should be., 6 Feb 2007
By 
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
I went through my schooling and university years studying a lot of mathematics. Nothing has ever been presented or taught to me in such an informative fashion. I just wish that this book be added to mathematics curricula all over the country.

Unputdownable!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very surprising!, 13 Sep 2001
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
I was browsing through amazon and I found this title. I didn't know you could write a readable book about a mathematical theory! It was a (surprisingly) fascinating tour through the history and the people that dedicate their lives to it. I never really disliked mathematics but this book gave e a whole new view on the subject.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read for non-maths geniuses, 18 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem (Paperback)
This book conveys an indepth, technical subject to the lay person in such a way that you become completely engrossed in it whether or not you understand the details. The author intertwines the details of the theorem with a history of the story and of the characters involved ensuring that the reader keeps turning the pages, desperate almost to know 'what happened next'.
Simon Singh has an uncommon and refreshing talent in being able to show the rest of us a glimpse of a world which would undoubtedly otherwise be closed and inaccessible. Can't recommend it highly enough.
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Fermat's Last Theorem
Fermat's Last Theorem by Simon Singh (Paperback - 7 May 1998)
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