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4.23  ·  Rating details ·  122 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Now in new trade paper editions, these classic biographies of two of the greatest 20th Century mathematicians are being released under the Copernicus imprint. These noteworthy accounts of the lives of David Hilbert and Richard Courant are closely related: Courant's story is, in many ways, seen as the sequel to the story of Hilbert. Originally published to great acclaim, bo ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published 1996 by Springer (first published January 1st 1970)
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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 ·  122 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Nick Black
Dec 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
Worth it for the Hilbert picture where he looks just like the Black Mage from the original Final Fantasy.
Ash Jogalekar
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book and a sensitive portrait of one of the greatest and most versatile mathematicians in history who was also a great human being. The book is as much a paean to the romantic mathematical life as anything else. From his perch in Göttingen, Hilbert took German mathematics to great heights until it was brought crashing down by politics and Nazism. His finest hour came in World War 1 when he and Einstein refused to sign a shameful, jingoistic manifesto claiming Germany as the victim ra ...more
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Truly outstanding! As probably many others, I first wondered whether a non-mathematician would be able to retell the mathematical aspects of Hilbert's life. Just a few pages in, however, I was pleasantly surprised. I would not have guessed that the author was not a mathematician.

Hilbert's life is truly fascinating and I find it interesting to understand how he came to be "the last mathematician that still understood (almost) every subject of mathematics". His dedication to learn new subjects led
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book is so flat,the writer seems unemotional about The Great Hilbert.But hilbert is the true genius with no doubt.
Ming Chyang Lim
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: mathematics student
An inspirational book for those who wishes to become a mathematician. David Hilbert had a lot of qualities which are role models for mathematicians nowadays.
Ami Iida
Nov 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: math, physics
It's not worthy reading, a wasted time.
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Hilbert had survived [Hermann Minkowski] by more than thirty years. He was still permitted to achieve important work. But who would like to say if his solitary death in the dark Nazi time was not still more tragic than Minkowski's in the fullness of his power?"

Unfortunately that would be how I sum up Reid's biography of Hilbert. It is not a sad work. Hilbert's life was not sad at all. Much of his humour transcends mathematics, and as such Reid's biography is very accessible, and at the same tim
Mar 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction

Things get very, very depressing at the end.

Also, this is funny: the author in a preface-type thing says that she wrote the book for laymen. But the publisher, Springer-Verlag, promoted the book only to its existing audience, and that as a result it was only read by mathematicians and scientists. She expressed the hope that mathematicians will continue to read Hilbert, but "that it will also come at last into the hands of the mathematically interested laymen for whom I originally wrote it
Chris Herdt
Dec 24, 2013 rated it liked it
I skimmed this. I was looking for the origins of Hilbert's Grand Hotel (which I did not find, but is presumably from a lecture he gave in the 1920s), but it was still an interesting look at the life of one of the great mathematicians of the late 19th & early 20th centuries. Although David Hilbert doesn't appear to have been a very nice person, his foray into skiing, and his obsession with bicycling and gardening were particularly humanizing. Also, it's kind of great to read about someone who tal ...more
Dec 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
The book is a bit on the dry side for an autobiography. However,
if you like math and/or philisophy it is well worth your time.
Hilbert made some amazing, and deep, contributions to mathematics
and logic. Many of the quotes on the more abstruse topics require
a couple of readings.
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographyhistory
From my Amazon review of January 26, 2016:

Outstanding. Even though the author is not a mathematician, it's clear she took the time to understand Hilbert's mathematical contributions and was able to explain them, in addition to giving great insight into what Hilbert was like as a person.
Bobbie Wu
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Communication and simplification, the two most important elements in math studying, are what I learned from Hilbert.
Yatin Jaiswal
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Hilbert -Genius at Work!!!!
Duhart Vader
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
awesome book! Tells the story story of one of my favourite mathematicians putting it in a historical context.
Peter Flom
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: math, bio
A very good non-technical biography of one of the 19/20th century's greatest mathematicians ...more
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Casey Schroeder
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent portrait of the man and the time and place of his life, before and during the war in Germany.
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“When people asked hilbert why he didn't prove Fermat's Last Theorem and win the Wolfskehl Prize, he said, "Why should I kill the goose that lays the golden egg?” 1 likes
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