Men of Mathematics


Written by E.T Bell, of the Bell numbers fame, Men of Mathematics is a hefty(roughly 600 pages) book containing the lives of 29 of the most brilliant thinkers and mathematicians since the time of Zeno (do have a look at his disturbing but clever paradoxes). Mathematics probably owes this book a great deal since a whole generation of mathematicians have been inspired by it. It contains the history of its chosen mathematicians, written in a manner that makes even the most trivial details seem exciting and memorable. Though many have criticized for its high dramatization, I believe that it does justice to each of its characters’ stories. If one wants, pure, distilled and deeply researched texts with the exact historical facts about these people can be found and this book doesn’t serve that purpose. Instead it does something much more moving: its humanizes the great thinkers that society has so glorified and made to seem extraterrestrial and god-like. The writing establishes a personal connection between the reader and the character by narrating the joys and tragedies of its characters. I feel this has become something very much necessary in the modern times, when academicians are frequently placed on the pedestal and made to look divine. Therefore the theatrical element, if anything, makes it an even more gripping read! Highly recommended for anyone interested in taking up Mathematics as a profession or looking for a dose of realistic tragedy and romance. And it does contain interesting pieces of Mathematics connected to each mathematician, in case you were wondering!


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