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Reviews

"David Roberts has produced a charming little book on a very big topic: the role of mathematics in American life. In a series of short biographies that delight as well as inform, Roberts shows the many ways that math influenced culture, economics, technology, and the idea of America itself. It all adds up to a tour de force by one of the leading scholars of the subject. Anyone who wants to solve the puzzle of mathematics in America should read Republic of Numbers."

"David Roberts's soundly researched, engagingly written essays on the lives of American mathematicians introduce readers to a fascinating and inspirational group of women and men over two centuries of history. As he depicts the rich diversity of mathematical careers, Roberts also educates us about the importance of mathematics to our modern world."

"This engaging volume explores the role of numbers—as represented by mathematical education and learning—in the lives of twenty-three Americans. Those considered range from Nathaniel Bowditch to Abraham Lincoln to Grace Murray Hopper. Drawing on their words and on historical accounts, Roberts weaves stories that will inform, intrigue, and delight mathematicians and non-mathematicians alike."

"This book is a delightful trip through 200 years of mathematical activity in America, telling the story of mathematics as it was encountered in daily life and intertwining it with the social and political issues of different eras. Readers will enjoy another step in the demystification and humanization of mathematical activity through this inclusive collection of vignettes."

"David Lindsay Roberts excels at portraying the culture of American mathematics. This book features very accurate and touching vignettes of bright Americans who either shaped or were shaped by mathematics. Their lives weave into one another like a tapestry, from Abraham Lincoln to Christine Ladd to John Nash."

"This charming collection of 20 "unexpected stories of mathematical Americans through history" focuses not only on the greatest US mathematical minds... Abraham Lincoln, self-trained as a surveyor, later studied Euclid — as demonstrated in his Gettysburg Address, "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal"."

"In Republic of Numbers, author and alum David Lindsay Roberts weaves eclectic and entertaining stories about math and mathematicians across two centuries of U.S. history... Pleasure in math links lives across more than two centuries in Roberts' elegant and eye-opening work of intellectual history. Mathematicians and math teachers will find in it an eclectic family history of their fields, with special attention to lesser-known characters, especially ones whose achievements beat the odds set against their race, sex, or background. But readers not excited by higher math will also enjoy these 20 deeply researched and gracefully narrated biographical essays."

"Roberts is to be congratulated for reminding us that the history of mathematics includes those who teach and practice useful mathematics as well as those who create abstract mathematics."

"This collection of brief biographies of two dozen Americans who relate to mathematics in various ways does not claim to present a representative  cross-section or a selection of the most important figures or even the most colorful figures. Each story, however, reveals a unique tie to the history of the country, resulting in a loosely woven national history as seen through a sample of citizens who also reflect something of the progress of American mathematics... The emphasis is more on how people came to mathematics and how, native born or immigrant, their lives are connected to the society of their time and sometimes to each other in some remarkable ways."

"[Republic of Numbers] is a work of art, in the sense that it feels new and original, and leaves the reader (at least this one) with a bit of awe... For anyone interested in the history of American mathematics, this book is a must read... The Republic of Numbers offers readers a fascinating and very human journey through a wide swath of history. I'm amazed at what Dave Roberts has been able to pack into a relatively compact book."