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# Count Down: Six Kids Vie for Glory at the World's Toughest Math Competition

by

Each summer six math whizzes selected from nearly a half-million American teens compete against the world’s best problem solvers at the International Mathematical Olympiad. Steve Olson followed the six 2001 contestants from the intense tryouts to the Olympiad’s nail-biting final rounds to discover not only what drives these extraordinary kids but what makes them both
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Hardcover, 256 pages

Published
April 2nd 2004
by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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Start your review of Count Down: Six Kids Vie for Glory at the World's Toughest Math Competition

(a) Full disclosure - I have a master's in math, so was predisposed to find it interesting

(b) Actually (a) may be more or less irrelevant. What I realize is that books wherein someone who can write well takes the topic of their own, or someone else's obsession, and communicates the essence of that obsession are, to me, fascinating. Other examples that come to mind are "Word Freak", ...more

I was never part of that crowd -- for whatever reason, I'm not a "math contest" sort of guy. As I went on in mathematics, ...more

*Count Down*because I was mainly interested in knowing how the students prepared for the AMC/AIME/USAMO/IMO tests. And...there was nothing about it. Imagine my disappointment and frustration.

Instead, I was forced to read the bland generalizations of the six budding mathematicians such as "He was good in music," "We never pushed him in math," and "Quite frankly, we don't know." Okay, thanks a lot...what a perception!

I just wanted to know what mathematics books they specifically ...more

WHY haven't I heard more about this amazing annual world wide competition?

Very interesting ...more

Feb 05, 2009
Bookmarks Magazine
added it

America is not a nation of math-lovers. Olson's subjects are, for the most part, the kind of kids his readers never were. However, he resists turning the Olympians into curiosities or players in a high-stakes drama. Instead, he uses the Olympiad as a springboard for discussing compelling issues of nature, nurture, and competitive drive. Some of these discussions crowd out the kids themselves; Olson doesn't describe their lives as fully as he might. Nor does he consider all the questions raised

...moreThe format got tiresome after awhile: each chapter begins with a scene from the Olympiad or some personal story about a participant; then a more general topic in education or mathematics is discussed, and the chapter concludes with a wrapping-up of the initial scene.

The intros to general ed and math topics are cursory, but cover a wide range of topics. This book might serve as a good starting place to pursue some of ...more

Six students, six problems and six beautiful solutions for them. For each problem, Olson describes an attribute essential for a so-called Olympian (e.g. Creativity,Talent, Competitiveness, etc), and explains the solutions of one of the contestants, with ...more

My earliest ideas of mathematical elegance and beauty came from this book and they have stayed with me ever since.

Jun 17, 2009
Yejee
added it

this is good book i read it 4 school. it is about discrimination......it is not really about mathmatics:)

Jan 29, 2008
Caroline
rated it
really liked it
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
math nerds or people who like them

Recommended to Caroline by:
Dad

This book made me want to be good at math... i am way too left brain though.

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Steve Olson is author of the book Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens, which Amazon has named one of the 20 best nonfiction books published in 2016 and which has been shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature. He is also the author of Mapping Human History: Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and other books, and
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