Close Notification

Your cart does not contain any items


How the World Became Geometrical

Amir Alexander



In stock
Ready to ship


Scientific American
10 September 2019
An eye-opening narrative of how geometric principles fundamentally shaped our world On a cloudy day in 1413, a balding young man stood at the entrance to the Cathedral of Florence, facing the ancient Baptistery across the piazza. As puzzled passers-by looked on, he raised a small painting to his face, then held a mirror in front of the painting. Few at the time understood what he was up to; even he barely had an inkling of what was at stake. But on that day, the master craftsman and engineer Filippo Brunelleschi would prove that the world and everything within it was governed by the ancient science of geometry.

In Proof!, the award-winning historian Amir Alexander traces the path of the geometrical vision of the world as it coursed its way from the Renaissance to the present, shaping our societies, our politics, and our ideals. Geometry came to stand for a fixed and unchallengeable universal order, and kings, empire-builders, and even republican revolutionaries would rush to cast their rule as the apex of the geometrical universe. For who could doubt the right of a ruler or the legitimacy of a government that drew its power from the immutable principles of Euclidean geometry?

From the elegant terraces of Versailles to the broad avenues of Washington, DC and on to the boulevards of New Delhi and Manila, the geometrical vision was carved into the landscape of modernity. Euclid, Alexander shows, made the world as we know it possible.
Imprint:   Scientific American
Dimensions:   Height: 231mm,  Width: 155mm,  Spine: 30mm
Weight:   567g
ISBN:   9780374254902
ISBN 10:   0374254907
Pages:   320
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Amir Alexander teaches history at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Infinitesimal, Geometrical Landscapes, and Duel at Dawn. His writing has appeared in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, and his work has been featured in Nature and The Guardian, on NPR, and elsewhere. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Reviews for Proof!: How the World Became Geometrical

Alexander's lucid and convincingly argued book fully demonstrates how ideas ancient in origin continue to shape the contemporary world. --Publishers Weekly By crafting an argument as elegant as a Euclidean proof, Amir Alexander demonstrates that ancient Greek geometry helped shape our modern political systems, from kingdoms to republics to empires. This is intellectual history at its finest: illuminating, surprising, and a cracking good read. --Steven Strogatz, Professor of Mathematics, Cornell University, and author of Infinite Powers Geometry is at the center of this retelling of the history of modernity. Amir Alexander brings his prodigious storytelling skills to the task, and the result is elegant, illuminating, and thoroughly entertaining. --Michael Harris, Professor of Mathematics, Columbia University

See Also