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It All Adds Up cover art

It All Adds Up

By: Mickael Launay,Stephen S. Wilson
Narrated by: Oliver J. Hembrough
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Summary

From Aristotle to Ada Lovelace: a brief history of the mathematical ideas that have forever changed the world and the everyday people and pioneers behind them. The story of our best invention yet. 

From our ability to calculate the passing of time to the algorithms that control computers and much else in our lives, numbers are everywhere. They are so indispensable that we forget how fundamental they are to our way of life.

In this international bestseller, Mickaël Launay mixes history and anecdotes from around the world to reveal how mathematics became pivotal to the story of humankind. It is a journey into numbers with Launay as a guide. In museums, monuments or train stations, he uses the objects around us to explain what art can reveal about geometry, how Babylonian scholars developed one of the first complex written languages, and how ‘Arabic’ numbers were adopted from India. It All Adds Up also tells the story of how mapping the trajectory of an eclipse has helped to trace the precise day of one of the oldest battles in history, how the course of the modern-day Greenwich Meridian was established, and why negative numbers were accepted just last century.

This book is a vital compendium of the great men and women of mathematics from Aristotle to Ada Lovelace, which demonstrates how mathematics shaped the written word and the world. With clarity, passion and wisdom, the author unveils the unexpected and at times serendipitous ways in which big mathematical ideas were created. Supporting the belief that – just like music or literature – maths should be accessible to everyone, Launay will inspire a new fondness for the numbers that surround us and the rich stories they contain.

©2018 Mickael Launay (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"I found Mickaël Launay’s fascinating book so enlightening that suddenly maths doesn't seem nearly as fearsome as it once did. Maybe It All Adds Up should, for me at least, have been re-titled 'It All Makes Sense. At Last.'" (Simon Winchester)

"An enjoyable and timely tour around the mathematics of everyday life, past and present. Mickaël Launay ably demonstrates his thesis that 'you only have to change how you look at the world' to find numbers and patterns in the most unlikely places. And he extends a welcoming and sympathetic hand to those who would like to like mathematics but don't know how." (Benjamin Wardhaugh, author of How to Read Historical Mathematics and Gunpowder and Geometry)

"It's difficult to carry on saying you do not like mathematics, [Mickael Launay] is so good at making this subject - which is so nightmarish for many students - captivating... The teacher you always dreamt of having." (Le Monde)

What listeners say about It All Adds Up

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Marvellous on all levels

Fabulous tour of mathematical history. Clear explanations and excellent linking narrative. Thoroughly recommended and no prior mathematical knowledge required.

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tour of maths

this is a historical spin through the discovery of relationships in nature through to todays vast collection of math. very enjoyable listen and facinating. started a little slow but made up for it as the book progressee. highly recommend.

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A little bit confusing

I'm not sure what this book tries to be, at times it's a history of math (what i was looking for) and sometimes it's more like a novel, or a description of mathproblems through the ages. I find it a bit confusing and the occasional rambling of numbers and formula doesn't work well in an audiobook, at least not for me. The performance by Hembrough is fantastic and makes the good parts of the book great.

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Great listen regardless of maths ability.

Very engaging audiobook & enthusiastic narration. Packed with very interesting facts & wonder. I always struggled with maths, thus avoid all but the simplest calculations, but this has inspired me to delve deeper!

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Fascinating and well told

Really interesting and clear explanation of the history of mathematics. I actually forgot the narrator wasn't the author, he seemed so passionate about the topics covered. I will definitely need to listen again (and again) to get my head round some of the concepts but I thoroughly enjoyed this.

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History + Maths

What more could you ask for? A well read book about the history or Mathematics! Lots of interesting bits and well explained maths.

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  • Lucas James Roberts
  • 30-01-22

Lovely book

A thoughtful and engaging journey through the history of mathematics. Not simply a history where the other reports a catalog of achievements and important dates, but a journey through the process by which developments came about — the problems that they addressed, the thinking that led to them, Etc.

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  • Lars Hvidtfeldt
  • 27-02-22

You have to like the subject, but if you do its worth the listen

A nice book, it's a bit long in getting started, but if you like to take the historic look at a subject, that's fine. Oliver J. Hembrough reads with enthusiasm, although the words are a bit high swung at times, he does a good job. Only complaint from me is the pronunciation of the French names, but that's likely just me being obstinate.