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on 27 July 1999
The Universal History of Numbers is the most comprehensive book I have come across on the subject by quite some way, and I have probably read over 100.
The style of writing makes the book easy to read, and it assumes almost no prior knowledge. Having said that the book is not exactly light bed time reading, there are nearly 650 large pages of quite small writing. It would take a *very* dedicated or interested reader to tackle the book from cover to cover. In my opinion it is best to read the introduction and first one or two chapters, and then to dip into the bits of the book you are particularly interested in. Because of this the book would not be the first I would recomend as an introduction to the subject, try Graham Flegg - Numbers: Their history and meaning, although I would not discourage anyone from buying the book either.
As a resource for Teachers of mathematics the book is excellent. It covers the number system of almost every concievable culture and any teacher with the slightest imagination could use the information in an interesting way in the classroom.
The book covers a lot of information which is not dealt with by the standard english language history of mathematics books, and as such is an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in the subject.
One thing I particularly liked about the book was that it gave various different theories for each question, for instance 'What is the origin of 'our' numerals?', and the reasons for and against each. This was very interesting, as well as helping to explain why historians belive what they believe.
The only criticism of this book I have is to do with its physical contruction. The pages are thin, and so is the cover, so it is very bendy, I would have prefered a hardback edition. However if it keeps the price down.
To sum up this is an excellent book, and an invaluable addition to the collection of anyone with an interest in mathematics, it's history or it's teaching.
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on 23 June 2001
People who like algorithms but hate equations will find this book a useful accessory to creative research in a variety of fields. It was a relief that the author accomplished an informative book that isn't boring or steeped in eurocentrism or political correctness.
This book is on par with "Godel, Escher, Bach" in terms of richness and it's more holistic approach, although not nearly as funny. (No fables about exploding record players amongst talking animals!) Math teachers of all levels wishing to convey to their students the CULTURAL ties to math will be rewarded by acquiring this book. As a student who hated math until my last year of college, I intend to give this book to my college Trigonometry teacher as a thank-you for her introducing me to the richness of applied mathematics. I especially like the full index in this book and also the glossary of Indian terms.
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on 26 March 1999
This book tells you more than any sane person would ever want to know about the origins of numerical notation. The range and depth of scholarship is extremely impressive but it is not exactly and easy read and at times it seems to go on for ever, for example when explaining how and why the Sumerians did mathematics in base 60. In the middle there is a huge encyclopaedia of Indian numerical terms which is unreadable and would be better as an appendix. There is also much of interest,including the opening sections describing the universality of counting on parts of the body, but I was surprised that it did not explain more recent and complex mathematical concepts such as imaginary and transcendental numbers which I would like to have known more about.
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on 16 March 2010
Excellent Seller, great book for the price.

This book is really excellent for anyone interested in the History of numbers.

Well worth a look
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on 27 December 2013
it's a wonderful book. I love it. Fast delivery, very good quality for used book. I recommend this book for everyone who loves numbers.
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on 19 September 2015
Just what I was looking for.
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on 2 June 2000
Typical French scholarship; a mountain of rocks, but no cathedral. Inconsistent, no guiding theme, no story, no index. A waste of 400FF several years ago; if I can prevent this for you, be grateful.
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