5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
a great story hashed,
This review is from: Infinitesimal (Hardcover)
The story or the origins of the integral calculus in the era of the Reformation and post-reformation with the possibility to align a period of great social and political upheaval with the names and personalities of the great Italian and (later) northern European mathematicians has the potential to be an absorbing thriller for those inclined and less inclined to mathematics. Amir Alexander makes an interesting story boring by repetitive repetition. He badly needed a vigorous editor who would have cut two-thirds of the length without losing anything. The aversion of the Jesuits to the new mathematics and their adherence to Euclidian maths as a bulwark against the threatening social chaos of the protestant ethos is maybe not surprising and the lengths to which they went in maligning our early mathematical heroes (Galileo et al.) might be an analogy for the current obsession of the American administration with Al Quaeda but the story loses all its potential excitement in Infinitesimal through repetitiveness. Again, the battle between Hobbes and Wallis provides new insights to the obsessive mind of the author of Leviathan but why tell the same story again and again page after page in part 2 of Infinitesimal. And why not tell us more of the parts that other greats of the era made of all this hateful to-and fro. Finally an epilogue carrying the story of the new maths forward to Newton and Leibnittz would given some better context to the story for the modern reader.
I will definitely not recommend this book to my friends - even the maths inclined among them. Not even 1 star