New History of Math Book Includes Surprising Elements of Human Drama

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Hal Hellman introduces his latest book in the "Great Feuds" series, this time covering the often-unknown emotional and academic disputes surrounding math reasoning. The book highlights the unique human characteristics and emotions that have shaped emerging math concepts.

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Great Feuds in Mathematics: Ten of the Liveliest Disputes Ever

Driven by greed, jealousy, ambition, and ego, academics have engaged in emotional and intellectual battles over the development of math through the centuries. These surprisingly personal disputes have pitted professional against professional, brother against brother, father against son, and mentor against student. The fourth book in the Great Feuds series, "Great Feuds in Mathematics: Ten of the Liveliest Disputes Ever" introduces readers to the human elements behind math history.

The book, written by freelance science writer Hal Hellman, will debut in mid-September and will be available for $24.95 at bookstores as well as through Internet sites such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

"When my editor first suggested that I do a book on 'Great Feuds in Mathematics,' I wasn't excited by the idea," says Hellman. "My concept of mathematics was that it was strictly a cold, logical discipline in which questions and problems could be decided objectively. How could there be feuds in mathematics? As I read, studied and talked with others, however, I discovered that mathematicians, no less than others, are human and are susceptible to the same emotions. I began to see that math reasoning allowed for questioning and conflict. The result is a series of stories with plots worthy of a soap opera."    

The book is designed for a broad audience and is not aimed merely at mathematicians. "I've tried to keep the book at a level that would not be beyond the capacity and interest of the non-specialist," says Hellman.

Readers who consider learning math to be a logical, exact, and unchanging field will be surprised at the intensity and liveliness of the debates that have raged through the history of math. As many parents and educators struggle to maintain students' interest in math, this particular math book would be a superb tool for getting young people more interested in math reasoning and any other aspect of the subject. By introducing readers to the high emotions and passionate debates surrounding the development of important math concepts, the book enlivens a subject matter traditionally viewed by many people as staid. Anyone who reads this fourth book in the "Great Feuds" series is certain to gain a fresh and interesting perspective on math's history.


The "Great Feuds" series is published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Each of the "Feuds" books, including "Great Feuds in Mathematics: Ten of the Liveliest Disputes Ever", "Great Feuds in Science", "Great Feuds in Medicine", and "Great Feuds in Technology", illustrate the human side of the particular discipline it covers. Each book in the series is available at bookstores as well as through Internet sites such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Hal Hellman’s web site,, offers for each book: a description, table of contents, summary of one chapter, comments by reviewers, and a quiz that will challenge your knowledge of the subject. There is also some background information on the author.


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