I went to The Well for a book signing by Geraldine Brooks and while waiting I picked up a copy of the above – she was so late I had to leave before she arrived. I put in my pile of ‘to be read later’ books. This month, however, for book club we decided to read a book of our own choice – rather than us all reading the same book. I decided to give this one a go – I was hoping for something similar to Singh’s Fermat’s Last Theorem . I was to be disappointed.
I don’t think the mix between mathematics and explanations for non-mathematicians is quite right. I was hoping I could convince my non-mathematical friends to read it, but I think it is too complicated for non-mathematicians. To be fair a lot of maths is covered in 314 pages.
Having said that, the parts about the Mathematicians’ lives are fascinating – their inspiration, cultural heritage and current world events are described beautifully. He can describe their personalities in a couple of succinct sentences. And the section on prime numbers and financial security is really well done – I think you could read it just for that bit.
So my final thought would be to read it if you are at all interested in Mathematics, but not to bother otherwise.