Friday, April 17, 2009

Review of ‘The Indian Clerk’ by David Leavitt

I really enjoyed reading this book. It is an excellent account of mathematicians and other academics at Cambridge between 1913 to 1919.
Initially it was difficult to know which parts of the book was fiction and which was fact. It is essentially based on historical facts but with entertaining fiction sprinkled throughout. However it is only when you read the ‘Sources and Acknowledgments’ section you realise the scattering of fiction.
I did like the style of the author and the way he dipped into some mathematics in this book. You do feel that you have understood some of background mathematics behind Ramanujan, Hardy and Littlewood.
However I did not see the need for the visual detail of gay sex in such a book. This should not put the reader off because it is only highlighted in rare instances.
This is a book for anybody interested in history of mathematics or mathematics in general. You do not need to be a mathematician to appreciate this book.
Overall I would say this is a very successful book and would recommend anybody interested in mathematics fiction or fact to purchase this book.