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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- Amazon Customer

A Tour of Incalculable Verbosity

I am about ten minutes into this, skipping ahead, and giving up for now, quite exasperated. I had hoped for a good overview and cultural description of calculus. This work is so wittily overwritten, so full of long, fanciful descriptions and soaring metaphor it is nearly impossible to remember what on earth we are talking about. The writing is actually good, but seems to have leapt the fence out its genre, striving to be Nabokov with little regard for the listener who just wants a bit of lucid mathematical explanation. I may try again later, but post this warning: you'll have to shovel aside heaps of colorful "prose" to get to anything about calculus.
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- Nelson Alexander

Book Details

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