Listing books in the Art of Mentoring series

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Full title Letters to a Young Contrarian [permalink]
Language English
Author Christopher Hitchens (author)
Publisher Basic Books
Categories Journalism and philosophy
Series Art of Mentoring (1/14)
Publication year 2005
Original publication year 2001
ISBN 978-0-465-03033-0 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 141
Synopsis

A collection of imaginary letters to a young contrarian. The beginning of each letter imagines that the reader has sent a reply to the previous one, and the current one is a reply to that, so that reading the book seems to be a conversation. The book deals with how to be a public intellectual with contrary views, and how to deal with all the hardships that come with that obligation.

Review

It's a very short book, and once started, it's very hard to put it down. Hitchens is a very eloquent writer, besides being knowledgeable and engaged. In the book he deals a little bit with his public confrontations (his criticism of Mother Theresa and Henry Kissinger, for instance), really as examples for pontificating on the life of a contrarian. There's a little part of the book that I liked where he explores various words for a contrarian, such as rebel, revolutionary, and an "angry young man".

Images Back of Letters to a Young Contrarian.Spine of Letters to a Young Contrarian.Front of Letters to a Young Contrarian.
Full title Letters to a Young Mathematician [permalink]
Language English
Author Ian Stewart (author)
Publisher Basic Books
Categories Mathematics and science
Series Art of Mentoring (11/14)
Publication year 2007
Original publication year 2006
ISBN 978-0-465-08232-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 203
Synopsis

Letters to a Young Mathematician is written as an update on G. H. Hardy's classic A Mathematician's Apology, but the book is not an exercise in apologetics.

"Attitudes change. No longer do mathematicians believe that they owe the world an apology."

It follows an imaginary girl, Meg, from her school years through her ensuing career, and each chapter is a letter to her at crucial steps in her career. Some parts are musings on math (pure vs applied) while others are specific career tips (solitary work vs collaboration). The book is virtually devoid of any actual math, so I think it's safe for mathophobes. In fact, for this very reason, it might even help to partially cure the phobia of those unfortunately inflicted.

Review

I really liked the light-hearted way the book is written. Perhaps someone who is planning on embarking on a mathematical career would enjoy it even more.

Images Back of Letters to a Young Mathematician.Spine of Letters to a Young Mathematician.Front of Letters to a Young Mathematician.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Preface
  • 1 Why Do Math?
  • 2 How I Almost Became a Lawyer
  • 3 The Breadth of Mathematics
  • 4 Hasn't It All Been Done?
  • 5 Surrounded by Math
  • 6 How Mathematicians Think
  • 7 How to Learn Math
  • 8 Fear of Proofs
  • 9 Can't Computers Solve Everything?
  • 10 Mathematical Storytelling
  • 11 Going for the Jugular
  • 12 Blockbusters
  • 13 Impossible Problems
  • 14 The Career Ladder
  • 15 Pure or Applied?
  • 16 Where Do You Get Those Crazy Ideas?
  • 17 How to Teach Math
  • 18 The Mathematical Community
  • 19 Pigs and Pickup Trucks
  • 20 Pleasures and Perils of Collaboration
  • 21 Is God a Mathematician?
  • Notes and References

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