Holly’s Thoughts: You may not believe me right away, but BELIEVE ME. This book is a perfect read for history geeks. Truth be told, I received it a few weeks ago and let it languish on my desk. But it was only after I heard the author’s fantastic interview on NPR’S Science Friday that I knew it had to get promoted to the nightstand.
I met my husband eons ago in college, but we only figured out awhile back that we had been in the same Freshman math class (a huge lecture hall). When I advise incoming college students now, I love to tell them all that “college means recalibrating your own bar for success.” That math class recalibrated my butt, and how. I was never so glad to get a C-. I had succeeded. But it turns out my husband, Mr. Genius apparently, made it through that class with an A+!
The Calculus Diaries may just have been what I needed back then. The book is full of smart and funny examples that make calculus not only bearable, but strangely interesting. And to my great relief, there’s not a formula in sight until the very last chapters. I love how Archimedes used math to set fire to with a solar “death ray” in the opening chapters and can’t wait to read how math and its history helps trump casinos, offers superhuman powers when battling zombies, and all crazy things in between. Had I been able to romp with Ouellette in that nightmare math class, maybe I would have been an astronaut instead of a humanist. Hey, combine The Calculus Diaries with Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars and I could totally reinvent myself!
Sidenote: Stop by tomorrow because we’ll be posting a guest post by Jennifer Ouellette, as well as a giveaway for The Calculus Diaries.
Janice’s Thoughts: In today’s poisoned political atmosphere, is it any wonder we are currently seeing a proliferation of books concerning “great” American political leaders of the past? James Monroe (1758-1831) was one such “great.” From first service as a Lieutenant in the Continental Army in 1776, James Monroe completely gave himself to the United States, assuming more public posts than any American in history. He served as a state legislator, U.S. congressman, U.S. senator, ambassador to France and Britain, minister to Spain, four term governor of Virginia, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, and finally, two successive terms as America’s fifth president. Unger credits President Monroe with transforming a “fragile little nation into a glorious empire that stretched from sea to shining sea.” Through his leadership, Monroe created an “Era of Good Feelings” that propelled America & its people to greatness. Unger relates a fascinating story of this important, but often overlooked, American who was the last U.S. President who participated in the founding of the United States.