This was an good idea: take a bunch of old (and some recent) news articles on developments in mathematics and related ares from the past hundred years. Fun for the math content and historical/nostalgia value. Relive the four-color theorem, Fermat, fractals, and early computing.

I have too much of a technical bent to be the ideal reader for this sort of book, but it seems like an excellent gift for a non-technical reader who nonetheless enjoys math. (I assume that such people are out there, just as there are people like me who can’t read music but still enjoy reading about the subject.)

The book is organized by topic. My own preference would have been chronological and with more old stuff. I particularly enjoyed the material from many decades ago, such as the news report on one of the early computers. This must have been a fun book to compile.

Another similar book: There is an annual series, Best writing in mathematics, that contains some of the most generally accessible articles in math.

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10071.html

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Writing-Mathematics-2011/dp/0691153159

[…] Andrew Gelman wrote a short review of this book on his blog a few days ago. I put off reading his review until I had written my own above. His reaction was similar to mine: […]