History, Culture, and Technique
Geometry Civilized is a unique combination of history and mathematics. It contains a full introduction to plane geometry and trigonometry within a fascinating historical framework that sets off the technical material. This approach to geometrical ideas gives the book its unique, readable style. The author has included a wide range of unusual and engaging geometric problems, many of which are taken from practical applications, drawn from sources ranging from ancient to modern. The study of geometry has been an important element of education in Europe since the time of the Greeks. This book helps us to understand why such emphasis has been placed on obtaining a good under-standing of geometry. But the history presented here is not confined to the Western tradition. Examples drawn from other cultures, particularly Chinese and Indian, underscore the peculiarities of the geometry we have inherited from the Greeks, and thereby make Euclid’s approach more accessible. The book is beautifully and extensively illustrated, includes carefully explained solutions to the problems that are discussed, and a selection of further problems and exercises to whet the reader’s appetite. The story of the connected rise of geometry and civilization is a fascinating one. By explaining the reason-ing behind the geometry, the geometry itself and the beauty and precision of its methods become clear.
The cover illustration depicts a group around Euclid in Raphael’s famous Renaissance mural, The School of Athens, in the Vatican Palace. The diagram on the slate can be read; it presents a proposition, perhaps originating with Raphael, relating to a star hexagon. It is explained and demonstrated in this book (the star hexagon is redrawn as Fig. 5.3.24).
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‘He has written a marvellous tale of how, throughout much of recorded history, geometrical thinking and civilisation have been closely intertwined ... Definitely a book to dip into and reflect on a superior form of brainfood for the beach this summer perhaps? Heilbron’s enthusiasm is contagious.’ - Ian Stewart, New Scientist
‘The book is wonderfully illustrated. There are diagrams on almost every page, apt illustrations from older books, and well chosen photographs, together with eight colour plates. The appearance of the book is quite seductive, for which Oxford University Press should be congratulated.’ - Jeremy Gray, Nature
‘This is a handsome book, well researched and entertainingly written. It shows how powerfully a histori-cally informed account can communicate. If you thought Euclidean geometry was something only your great-grandparents did - try it, you will be surprised.’ - June Barrow-Green, The TIMES Higher Education Supplement