Cover image for The story of mathematics
The story of mathematics
Mankiewicz, Richard.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
192 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QA21 .M23 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
QA21 .M23 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The mysterious tally sticks of prehistoric peoples and the terrestrial maps used for trade, exploration, and warfare; the perennial fascination with the motions of heavenly bodies and changed perspectives on the art and science of vision: all are testament to a mathematics at the heart of history. This visually stunning volume takes the reader on an illustrated tour of mathematics across cultures and civilizations, bringing to life a world of important ideas and-rarely supposed-great intrigue and charm.

The development of mathematics can be seen in a wealth of images, from the richly illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages to the deeply unsettling art of Dali and Duchamp, from the austere beauty of Babylonian clay tablets to the delicate complexity of computer-generated pictures. These images, and many others, are lavishly reproduced to accompany a text that travels from the dawn of Chinese and Indian civilizations to the scientific and digital revolutions of our day.

Including portraits of household names such as Kepler and Copernicus as well as lesser-known but equally compelling figures like Niels Henrik Abel and Leonhard Euler, The Story of Mathematics is a rich amalgam of history, biography, and popular science. Readers will come away understanding how and why mathematics evolved as it did--of how it entered and remained close to the center of every area of human activity. Explaining mathematical concepts without equations, Richard Mankiewicz enables us to appreciate this essential intellectual occupation without "doing the math."

Author Notes

Richard Mankiewicz is currently a lecturer at Peterborough Regional College. He is a contributing author to The Science Book (Cassell) as well as the author of many articles on mathematics, art, and culture.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Too often reduced to a catalog of formulas and numbers, or axioms and proofs, mathematics here receives the multifaceted treatment it deserves. In a text laced with beautiful illustrations and piquant anecdotes, Mankiewicz traces the rise of this profoundly human pursuit, from its earliest stirrings among tribal peoples using tally sticks to the latest speculations of theorists deploying multiphase computers. No mere diversion for specialists, mathematics here emerges as an essential tool for astronomers, a vital inspiration to artists, and a reliable guide to policymakers. The magic of numbers has enchanted Michelangelo and Blake, as well as Pythagoras and Einstein. In recent decades, mathematics may even deserve credit for averting Armageddon by confronting national leaders with sophisticated game theories demonstrating the futility of nuclear war. Inevitably, some episodes will mystify the uninitiated. (Four-dimensional fractals?) But no book could do more to draw general readers into an enterprise of unexpected splendors and surprising possibilities. --Bryce Christensen

Publisher's Weekly Review

A producer of events about the cultural dimensions of math and associate researcher at Middlesex University, Richard Mankiewicz presents The Story of Mathematics (with a foreword by Ian Stewart), a visually stunning work that takes the reader across time, highlighting the key moments in the development of the mathematical sciences and their cultural influences. The narrative is intriguing, the 80 color illustrations are magnificent and the inclusion of writings by famous mathematicians is a wonderful touch. The only problem with the book is that the primary font is so delicate and the type size so small that even the most avid math fans will have difficulty doing more than peruse its contents. (Apr. 2) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved