***Mathematicians Are People, Too!
Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians
by Luetta Reimer and Wilbert Reimer
Reviewed September 1, 2003.
Dale Seymour Publications, Palo Alto, California, 1990. 143 pages.
$15.95 in paperback on Amazon.com
Available at Sembach Library (J920 REI).
I discovered this book and its companion second volume
while doing inventory in the
children’s nonfiction section of the library. Since I was still reading
Beyond the Limit
at the time, I found them irresistible. Beyond the Limit
stops when Sofya
Kovalevskaya gets her PhD, and I was remarkably curious to find out what
happened after that and if she lived to see the Communist Revolution.
(She didn’t, dying in her forties, but she did make some more great mathematical
achievements before she died.)
This book is designed for teachers of math to tell their students stories
about the great mathematicians of the past, stressing that math was developed
by real people, people with a great curiosity about the world. The
style is light, easy reading, but is very interesting.
In some ways it backfired with me, making the mathematicians seem not
at all like normal people. They all seemed to be people with an obsession
with mathematics that would not be denied. (Of course, this fed into
my thinking about obsessions, which I talk about in my review of Feynman’s Rainbow.
The book covers mathematicians from Thales of Miletus, who lived in the
Sixth Century B. C, to the Indian Srinivasa Rmanujan of the Twentieth Century.
These are fascinating stories, focusing mainly on the human aspects of
the great mathematicians, with a light touch on the problems they solved.
Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.
All rights reserved.
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