## book review

*How to read historical mathematics*and this is precisely what it is about. It is an introduction to the marvellous world of the history of mathematics, aimed at the general public. You will not learn a lot either about mathematics or its history, but you will be much better prepared for reading old mathematical masterpieces after this book.

This is an excellently researched and well-written book. It distinguishes itself from the body of popular science books by interspersing and motivating the mathematics it contains using stories, interviews and conversations with a variety of people, ranging from mathematicians and linguists to mystics. The result is a mixture of journalism, travel literature and mathematical history that will have a much wider appeal than many other accessible texts on mathematics.

This book is a mixture between an encyclopedia and a collection of intriguing ideas. In some sense, it's a plain English encyclopedia of maths, embellished with some examples for entertainment. So whether you're trying to get at the "true" meaning of something textbooks only define using passionless symbols, or are looking for a little diversion before going to sleep, this book can give you both.

This book tells the fascinating story of strange geometric objects that have achieved some fame outside of maths and even inspired a Woody Allen joke: they're called *Calabi-Yau manifolds*. When *Plus* recently interviewed one of its authors he was adamant that maths should be brought to the masses without dumbing down or glossing over the tricky parts. And this is just what this books sets out to achieve.

The sense of going on a journey with a brilliant and entertaining companion, of feeling like you are never sure why the conversation is veering in this new direction, yet being confident that there is a good reason for it, is the strongest sense which I got from this lovely new book by Marcus du Sautoy.