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The Night Is Large: Collected Essays, 1938-1995

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  16 reviews
In The Night Is Large, Martin Gardner has assembled forty-seven challenging and inquisitive essays into a work that places him at the heart of twentieth-century American intellectual culture. Delving into an immense range of topics, from philosophy and literature to social criticism to mathematics and science, with essays that date from 1930s to the 1990s, Martin Gardner h ...more
Paperback, 586 pages
Published July 15th 1997 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1996)
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Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
I'm ashamed to admit that, although I've had this book for years, it took Martin Gardner's recent death to get me to read it. If I'd taken the trouble even to scan the table of contents I would have recognized the impressive scope of the essays in this collection. I had always thought of Martin Gardner as a mathematician - a characterization that manages to be both severely reductive and inaccurate (he did not have formal training in mathematics).

The 47 essays in this excellent collection show G
A great collection of essays on a vast number of topics by one of the most underrated American intellectual figures. His writings on Stephen Hawking, Mathematics, Lewis Carroll, Coleridge and other topics are second-to-none. Gardner was the closest equivalent in our era to the great Robert G. Ingersoll and this collection is a wonderful sampler of a great and prolific writer.
keith koenigsberg
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
This fantastic book has been my companion for a long time, and I just re-read it. Gardner writes with great clarity about virtually every important subject in science and philosophy, and beyond. Symmetry, Relativity, God, Extra-terrestrials, the soul, the brain, quantum physics. This is a colossal, heavy-hitting, deep-thought-provoking (layman's) book. ...more
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At the end of last year I read Panopticon by Enzensberger. I came away from that book quite disappointed (as you'll see if you go looking for my brief Goodreads review from December 2018). It wasn't that it was bad exactly, it just wasn't as broad and thought-provoking as I think a book of essays ought to be.

Which sent me on a quest to find a better book of essays. With some powerful Google Magic I found Martin Gardner, and moments later, The Night is Large. Then, in a bit of synchronicity I di
Jul 08, 2007 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
my dad keeps wanting me to read this, we'll see. ...more
Dennis Littrell
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A renaissance man in the third millennium

I thoroughly enjoyed this, the definitive collection of Gardner's essays, and recommend it highly. My recommendation, however pales beside those that appear on the book jacket, including praise from Noam Chomsky, Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, Raymond Smullyan, Arthur C. Clarke, and Stefan Kanfer. Little more need be said about the value of this splendid book; but I would like to offer some observations.

The first chapter, a review of four books on symmetr
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Very good Newcomb’s paradox.
Frank Ashe
A few of these essays are dated, it's 25 years this book came out and it was a retrospective collection then.
But the writing and the spirit are still fresh.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
[Forgot to post this earlier]

Martin Gardner was large and contained multitudes; here's your proof. This is your best general introduction to this vivacious and charming polymath, since the breadth and depth of his output came close to giving Isaac Asimov a run for his money: Alice In Wonderland, the Twin Paradox, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, Allan Bloom, the many Anthropic Principles, H.G. Wells in Russia, L. Frank Baum, the interplay between science and pseudoscience, Coleridge and the
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone.
Finished the book. Below is an early entry. More later. This is a very fine book, a cross section of Gardner's writing about scientific, cultural, philosophical and religious topics but very little along the lines of the mathematical games or recreational mathematics that is possibly best known for, there is only one essay in that area concerning Dr. Apollomax, student of Bourbaki (that is a hint), that contains a very tricky puzzle and a few apparent paradoxes. In addition, there is one essay t ...more
Moshe Zioni
Jun 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Gardner is a skeptic - and he is going the whole nine yards with his scrutinization and objective perspectives on, well, pretty much anything. His wide areas of knowledge are amazing, his research is remarkable and over-all he did a very good job in offering his findings to a layman as myself and still constantly - to be interesting and manages to keep me interested throughout the process - on every topic in the book - Physical science, Mathematics, Social Sciences, Religion, Philosophy, The Art ...more
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Among “science writers” there are none I enjoy more than Martin Gardner and Stephen Jay Gould. Gardner, who died in 2010, was a generalist, a sort of latter-day Renaissance man who could speak intelligently on mathematics, physics, economics, philosophy, literature, etc. He was not as good an essayist as Gould, nor as deep (probably) in any single field, but reading him one is stirred to a sense of camaraderie and shared adventure. Gardner doesn’t lecture, he communicates. Among the things he co ...more
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A good collection of essays over an enormous span of time, at least to this reader, and on an equally enormous variety of subject matter, showing the author a true polymath.

I found Gardner's intellectual honesty regarding his theistic views refreshing, neither claiming rational nor evidential justification for them, but a purely emotional turn of the will.

I recommend this book for its numerous looks inside the mind and views of one of the founding figures of modern skepticism, whose name stands
Tom Holt
Dec 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
The Night Is Large: Collected Essays, 1938-1995 by Martin Gardner (1997)
Erik Duval
Dec 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Smart and superbly written...
Dec 03, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, essays
(Read somewhere that he had something to say about the weak anthropic principle.)
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Martin Gardner was an American mathematics and science writer specializing in recreational mathematics, but with interests encompassing micromagic, stage magic, literature (especially the writings of Lewis Carroll), philosophy, scientific skepticism, and religion. He wrote the Mathematical Games column in Scientific American from 1956 to 1981, and published over 70 books.

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