- Also check our best rated Romance Book reviews
The Bourbaki Gambit Paperback – 31 Oct 1996
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
From the Author
Open Djerassi's home page can start an interesting dialog
My home page will allow access to all of my literary works and also lists my e-mail address. This is one way of entering into a dialog with a fiction writer, PROVIDED (a) you have actually read the book (b) you have interesting comments, criticisms or questions. If any reader is interested in listening to this author, one of the web pages always lists the current lecture/reading schedule.
About the Author
Carl Djerassi is an internationally renowned scientist whose books include the novel Marx, Deceased; his autobiography The Pill, Pygmy Chimps, and Degas' Horse; essay, poetry, and short-story collections and two plays. A professor of chemistry at Stanford University, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and is one of the few American scientists to have been awarded both the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The premise of "The Bourbaki Gambit" is excellent. (The title of the book comes from the pseudonymous mathematician Nicolas Bourbaki, although only one character in the book is a mathematician.) An older and highly successful biochemist, feeling that he has been prematurely put out to pasture, seeks revenge by recruiting three other like-minded colleagues to form a pseudonymous and anonymous collaboration. Their goal? To expose the ageist prejudices of the scientific world by publishing outstanding research under a pen name and then, after the kudos roll in, to reveal their true identities. The plan seems perfect---until paradoxically, they become victims of their own success.
In a world where people are living increasingly long and healthy lives, and where collaboration is becoming increasingly important even in traditionally "solitary" fields (as I write this, the renowned mathematician Tim Gowers is experimenting on his blog with "Polymath," a large-scale pseudonymous---but not anonymous---wiki-style collaborative research entity), the premise of "The Bourbaki Gambit" is extremely relevant. Scientists themselves (and not just the general public) would do well to grapple more directly and openly with the problems and issues that are highlighted in this book.
I must confess, however, that I found "The Bourbaki Gambit" to be less well-written than Djerassi's more famous book, "Cantor's Dilemma." One gets the feeling that the author overindulged himself by inserting a lot of trivia about his favorite hobbies and pet interests. These details can be interesting if you happen to share the same interests---for example, even though I am a mathematician and know about Hy Bass, I did not know that he contributed to Bourbaki---but too often they fail to enliven the characters or plot, or contribute to the underlying social commentary, and thus they cause the book to drag. The characters in "Cantor's Dilemma" are more believable, three-dimensional, and likable. So if you have never read Djerassi before, I recommend you start with "Cantor's Dilemma."
By the way, the characters' main scientific discovery in the book is in fact a real piece of science, and the true story of its discovery is quite fascinating in its own right. Be sure to check it out after finishing Djerassi's book.
The book is slow and almost too literary, but the character development is better than many faster or more interesting novels.
Had they developed a biotoxin or a weapon of some kind, it might have
had spies and intrigue that would
have gained the book a wider audience.
Instead it became a polemic against sex and age discrimination in the
scientific and educational community.
The fact that one gets paid more for getting more published under an individual name and that individuals can't get published without some recognized sponsorship makes the system system somewhat secure
from raging originality and not all an open form. It is not at all clear why older successful people would be threatened by being retired
so that younger people can get at least a chance
should be much of an issue:
a more important issue is the voices who are never heard or even allowed to speak or publish their work or ideas.