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The Book of Wonders

The Many Lives of Euclid's Elements

Benjamin Wardhaugh

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Harper Collins
19 August 2020
Euclid's Elements of Geometry was a book that changed the world. In a sweeping history, Benjamin Wardhaugh traces how an ancient Greek text on mathematics - often hailed as the world's first textbook - shaped two thousand years of art, philosophy and literature, as well as science and maths.

Thirteen volumes of mathematical definitions, propositions and proofs. Writing in 300 BC, Euclid could not have known his logic would go unsurpassed until the nineteenth century, or that his writings were laying down the very foundations of human knowledge.

Wardhaugh blasts the dust from Euclid's legacy to offer not only a vibrant history of mathematics, told through people and invention, but also a broader story of culture. Telling stories from every continent, ranging between Ptolemy and Isaac Newton, Hobbes and Lewis Carrol, this is a history that dives from Ancient Greece to medieval Byzantium, early modern China, Renaissance Italy, the age of European empires, and our world today.

How has geometry sat at the beating heart of sculpture, literature, music and thought? How can one unknowable figure of antiquity live through two millennia?
By:   Benjamin Wardhaugh
Imprint:   Harper Collins
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 32mm
Weight:   510g
ISBN:   9780008299910
ISBN 10:   0008299919
Pages:   336
Publication Date:   19 August 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Benjamin Wardhaugh is a Fifty-pound Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. His research focuses on the history of numeracy and mathematics, and the ways mathematics influences and is a part of cultures. His work focuses mainly on topics in early modern Britain, including mathematical music theory in that period. He has taught in both the Mathematical Institute and the History Faculty. He is the author of Gunpowder and Geometry.

Reviews for The Book of Wonders: The Many Lives of Euclid's Elements

Praise for Benjamin Wardhaugh's Gunpowder and Geometry 'Meticulous yet lively biography, even those who have never heard of its subject could hardly disagree' Sunday Times 'Wardhaugh graphically describes the conditions Hutton escaped from and the importance of Newcastle and its coal to the changes taking place in Britain in the second half of the eighteenth century . . . like something from the pages of a Jane Austen novel . . . Wardhaugh has done a good job of rescuing Hutton from obscurity and setting the man and his achievements in the context of their times . . . This account of how the pit boy turned professor became one of the most revered British scientists of his day is well worth reading' Literary Review 'As this book argues persuasively, he changed a whole culture: by simple dint of his genial celebrity as well as a europhile passion for developments in France and elsewhere, he helped to elevate mathematics to a rank equal with the other sciences. It is impossible not to warm to such a man in Wardhaugh's wryly sympathetic telling . . . Spirited and elegantly erudite' Daily Telegraph


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