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The Calculus Wars: Newton, Leibniz, and the Greatest Mathematical Clash of All Time
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The Calculus Wars: Newton, Leibniz, and the Greatest Mathematical Clash of All Time

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  202 ratings  ·  32 reviews
"Now regarded as the bane of many college students' existence, calculus was one of the most important mathematical innovations of the seventeenth century. But a dispute over its discovery sowed the seeds of discontent between two of the greatest scientific giants of all time - Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz."

"Today Newton and Leibniz are generally consider
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 26th 2007 by Basic Books (first published 2006)
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The content of this book, insofar as it actually talked about the invention of calculus, cultivated, for me, a profound respect for the genius of both Newton and Leibniz, respectively.

Still, this is a very sloppy book which would've benefited from some simple editing. I checked it out from the local library and was relieved to find that the person who checked it out before me actually went through with a blue pen and corrected the majority of Bardi's grammatical errors (the Bibliographical Essa
Jason Miller
I picked this book up impulsively, rationalizing the purchase using my profession (mathematics educator) and a curiosity about the conflict described in the book. When I teach courses related to the Calculus, I often remark on the 'discovery' of the Calculus and the conflict between Newton and Leibniz. What little I know about the conflict came from some histories of mathematics by Boyer which treated the conflict comparatively lightly. This book wades deep enough into the nitty-gritty of the pa ...more
This was a fairly poor book. The writing style was just droning, and the central event the book builds up to, "the calculus wars", turned out to be just a bunch of back and forth bickering. Furthermore, the book doesn't really talk much about mathematics. Definitely feel there are better books out there concerning the development of calculus.
I found this book fascinating and funny. But I couldn't really explain the dry humor. But 2 grown men hiding Calculus from each other and accusing each other of stealing it...priceless. As far as my students are concerned, they both could have kept it to themselves.
Evanston Public  Library
My two middle-school kids are learning algebra and geometry, which I discovered I mostly remember. But they’re heading toward calculus, which I discovered I had mostly forgotten. So I started re-educating myself. While getting re-educated I learned the remarkable story behind calculus.

But first: What is calculus? In simple terms, it’s the mathematics of changing values. In less simple terms, it’s the set of tools for calculating “momentary” values like acceleration, deceleration, or slopes of cu
Stephanie A. Higa
Quick read but boring. This book has too much history and not enough math. If I wanted to learn about scandals that "would make a soap opera-loving housewife blush," I'd watch The Bold and the Beautiful, mmkay. The style, while generally harmless, occasionally goes from professional/historical to personal narrative (i.e. the author injects himself into the story), and the figurative language is also anachronistic, with odd comparisons between Newton and a startup CEO and eBay and...I don't remem ...more
I really liked the book. In it Bardi brings us into the sad but inevitable struggle that often occurs at the fore front of discovery between the genius and egos of intellectual giants. The reader gets a very intimate view of two of sciences most brilliant and tragic figures and the battle they waged between each other for collaboration, understanding and recognition. Not only was it well written, well researched and informative but it also captures the essence of human nature and the triumphs an ...more
Διάβασα αυτό το βιβλίο στην ελληνική του έκδοση αλλά, δεν ήταν αυτό που περίμενα. Ο τίτλος του με παρέπεμπε σε διαμάχες και αναλύσεις Μαθηματικών εργασιών μεταξύ των δύο αυτών μεγάλων μαθηματικών. Φάνηκε από την αρχή ότι θα ήταν ένα όχι και τόσο ενδιαφέρον βιβλίο γιατί έκανα πάνω από μήνα να το τελειώσω και δεν ανυπομονούσα για τη συνέχεια. Αντί αυτού άρχισα να βαριέμαι την ανάγνωση από το πρώτο κιόλας κεφάλαιο κι αυτό γιατί οι ιστορικές λεπτομέρειες σχετικά με την εποχή που διαδραματίστηκαν τα ...more
This book is a disappointing text. It is full of typographical errors and one egregious historical error that should have been caught (i.e., James II of England is listed as Charles II's son, when in fact he was Charles' brother.) There is also too much anti-Catholic religious polemic here, and a facile presentation of the religious controversies that beset post-Elizabethan England, none of which have terribly much to do with the development of calculus or the battles between Leibniz and Newton ...more
My teacher: "You have to read the calculus wars."
Me: "Nerds fighting? ...I'll just go watch the Big Bang Theory..."

Jokes aside, the Calculus Wars is actually quite interesting, however the chronology is a bit jumpy and can become hard to follow. On a different note, the book tries very hard to deceive you into believing it is soley about the Calculus Wars, when it is really more of a biographical intersection of the lives of Sir Issac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. As a reader, if I had a
Sep 13, 2009 Norah added it
Had to drop this like a hot potato when the author implied Leibniz had a way to square the circle. Do not read any book that claims this is possible, even if that reference does not actually have any bearing on the main points of the book. It shows that the general readership author does not understand the math he is attempting to writing about. (I also have a loathing of authors who use the first person singular in nonfiction works not about themselves. No one wants their opinions - just the fa ...more
This rather gossipy book won't teach you much about calculus, but it will give you a fascinating picture of social and political context of science and mathematics were like in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.It was easy to read as well as quite well researched and modestly provides a nice bibliographic essay. I particularly appreciated the biographical material about Leibniz, whose first name [Gottfried:] I had never even know.
The writing may have been a little uneven but the subject matter was presented well-enough to keep me interested. The book seemed more about Leibniz than Newton and one could conclude that the scope of Leibniz's interests overshadowed Newton's. The author bills the tale as a cautionary one about scientists, discoveries and publishing but it is also a window into how personality, ego and bias can affect even the great minds'motivations.
The author bounces around, repeats himself tirelessly and makes many grammatical errors. It's almost like the book is a collection of articles. This work clearly wasn't thought out in advance. The entire text could be condensed to about 150 pages and all the facts would still be there. The intellectual battles among academics was fascinating so it isn't complete garbage. The topic is great as well. I was just expecting a much better read.
After reading about Leibniz, Newton, et al. in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, I was inspired to read more about the real events. While the real story didn't quite have the same excitement, The Calculus Wars was about as exciting as math biographies get. I wouldn't recommend this to very many people I know, but if the phrase "math biography" doesn't horrify you, this was a good book and a relatively quick read.
Oct 19, 2007 Thomas rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who like hsitory of science.
An intriguing historical narrative about the birth of calculus. As I am reading, I try to keep a perspective that this "war" took place over decades, was debated through scholarly editorials and letters. Today such a debate would be taking place over the internet. I won't tell you what the fatal flaw in Leibnezs' argument is. But, read it and find out. Not overly mathematical in terms of proofs.
Chris Fenton
A very interesting subject, the book unlike most other math histories I've read has a nicer tone with evident humor and passion. Good read, would recommend to anyone interested in Calculus and its origin, or Newton or Leibniz. Odd thing, book has a large amount of grammatical and typeset errors
Tag Riggs
This was really about a war between England and Europe, Germany in particular. Brilliant men, Newton & Liebniz, being pushed by ego centrists of small minds. An incredible history of mathematics in an age when they were well prepared for the notions of differential and integral calculus.
The small part of the book devoted to the sniping between Newton & Leibninz over priority in creating calculus is amusing & interesting, but the book is marred by errors factual & editorial, and does a poor job in explaining what calculus is.
This was a fairly interesting book, but it certainly didn't improve my opinion of Newton. I suppose nobody is at their best when they're feuding with other people, and Newton and Liebniz were certainly not exceptions to that rule.
Steve Heitkamp
Interesting story, but the writing was less than stellar. Also, I am far from convinced that the disagreement merits the term, "War." It reads more to me like a spat between old men.
John Benson
Interesting background material about the development of Calculus and about how even brilliant people can sometimes be unreasonable.
Poorly written, mathematical concepts simplified, many typos, bad analogies... this was a disappointing book.
Brandon Meredith
Finally gave up and returned it to the library. Learned a few things, but it was not riveting.
Not really much is surprising about the "war" here, but an excellent look at both lives.
Christian Langreiter
baroque cycle minus all the pirate stories. would benefit from another round of editing.
Frank Spencer
This is a good read. Tells about two of the thinkers in my book.
Drama gets tiring, regardless.
Very interesting book although I think the title is a bit hyperbolic.
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