This volume is part of a series designed to tell the story of mathematics by recounting the lives of the people who created it. In this case, it is the story of 19th century mathematicians, including such marvelous characters as Carl Frederich Gauss, who towered over every aspect of the field, and Sophie Germaine, who had to study under a pseudonym because of her sex and who used her influence to protect Gauss when Napoleon marched into his hometown of Brunswick. Byron’s daughter, Ada Lovelace, is also here with the work she did that anticipated modern computer programming, as is Georg Cantor, who proved that there can be more than one kind of infinity. The author of the series is chair of the math department at Merrimack College. Choosing a mathematician to write these books--especially a teaching mathematician--was an inspired choice. Still, that choice comes with a price. For one thing, Dr. Bradley’s prose is a tad stiff for most kids. For another, scholarly habits like citing the titles of papers in their original language and then translating them are downright irritating in a book for children. It makes reading these stories aloud to a class more awkward than it should be. That said, books are doors into new worlds, and I doubt if any library has enough items about the fascinating and beautiful world of mathematics. Part of the “Pioneers in Mathematics” series. Reviewer: Michael Chabin
- Amie Rose Rotruck
When they first begin to study mathematics, few students think about the origins of the principles they are learning. However, there is a rich history of the development of math spanning thousands of years. In this title from the "Pioneers in Mathematics" series, Bradley examines the major contributors to mathematics that lived between 1300 and 1800 AD, including John Napier, Blaise Pascal, Sir Isaac Newton, and Leohnhard Euler. Women and minorities are not often well represented in the math books, but Bradely makes a point to include Maria Agnesi, an Italian woman, and Benjamin Banneker, a freed slave whose mathematical theories were published in the late eighteenth century in the United States. Every mathematician mentioned has their own chapter, which includes a description of their lives and a thorough but easily digested explanation of the mathematical principles they developed. In addition to diagrams illustrating the mathematics when required, there are numerous pictures to offer a more thorough look at the lives of these mathematicians. An excellent resource to bring life to math, as well as a useful tool when researching any of the mathematicians.
- Sarah Flowers
This five-volume set explores the lives and contributions of fifty people who made major developments in mathematics, from ancient times to the present. The second volume, The Age of Geniuis, covers the years from 1300 to 1800 and includes giants of the field such as Newton, Leibniz, Pascal, and Fermat. All volumes include women and non-Westerners, giving the series a broad coverage of the history of mathematics worldwide. In addition, the chosen mathematicians well illustrate the relationship of mathematics to other sciences, especially astronomy, physics, and computer science. Some knowledge of algebra and geometry is helpful in reading the details of each mathematician's contributions, but illustrations and diagrams abound to assist in comprehension. Glossaries, lists of further reading, and pronunciation guides add to the usefulness of the volumes. Other series entries include The The Age of Geniuis: 1300-1800, The Foundations of Mathematics: 1800-1900, Modern Mathematics: 1900-1950, and Mathematics Frontiers: 1950 to the Present.