A Tour of the Calculus

  • by David Berlinski
  • Narrated by Dennis Holland
  • 10 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Were it not for the calculus, mathematicians would have no way to describe the acceleration of a motorcycle or the effect of gravity on thrown balls and distant planets, or to prove that a man could cross a room and eventually touch the opposite wall. Just how calculus makes these things possible and in doing so finds a correspondence between real numbers and the real world is the subject of this dazzling book by a writer of extraordinary clarity and stylistic brio. Even as he initiates us into the mysteries of real numbers, functions, and limits, Berlinski explores the furthest implications of his subject, revealing how the calculus reconciles the precision of numbers with the fluidity of the changing universe.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Top Poet among Mathemeticians

First of all: As long as this book says it is narrated by Dennis Holland, don't waste your money or credit.The narrator has NO concept of how to read mathematical formulae, and, thus, the book was confusing at best. It took me a few instances where the narrator spoke of "two-x" to realize that he should be reading it as "x-squared" or "x to the second power". I find it hard to believe that an author would allow a narrator to so completely destroy his text; I further find it hard to believe that anyone educated would fail to understand the difference between 2x and x-squared. Come on, guys. It's an audiobook - the spoken language is all we have here. It needs to be precise, particularly in mathematics. I stopped listening out of frustration after only a couple of hours.

As for the book, the language is quite flowery. Perhaps if I could have persisted in listening to the book further, the language would have grown on me, but, alas, it just seems to be too much window-dressing for the subject. The analogies did not illumine the primary subject, but seemed stretched to give the illusion of literary skill.

I had high hopes for an interesting history of the calculus, but found only frustration.
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- Kindle Customer

Ponderous, Meandering and Verbose.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A book that covered the topic of Calculus.


Any additional comments?

As if David Berlinski hid 6 pages of information at random intervals within a thesaurus, "a tour of calculus" closely resembles a sophomore's expository writing assignment that desperately pads his under researched book with monotone landscapes and irrelevant details, in what only can be described as a half hearted attempt to fill the required number of pages.

Every chapter is a tedious forest of recycled clich├ęs and tired metaphors lifted directly from his other books. Lacking all restraint, he launches himself shamelessly into excruciatingly long accounts of the furniture, the shape and size of professor's heads, the bridges in Prague, the gestures and emotions of people not present to hear his arguments, and the smells that may or may not have filled the rooms of various historical figures. "They shine like diamonds on a jeweler's black velvet cloth" to quote Berlinski from both "A Tour of Calculus" and "The Advent of the Algorithm"

I blame both the author and the editor for this extravagant waist of print space and my time.

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- Charle

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-16-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios