“Michael Harris writes with all-absorbing exuberance and intensity about what it feels like from the inside to do mathematics, and he succeeds, for the uninitiated like myself, in conveying the motives and the pleasure that have impelled him and his precursors and peers to seek to understand. But Mathematics without Apologies is many things besides: it combines thoughtful personal memoir, sharp social chronicle, entertaining literary analysis, and jeux d’esprit reflecting on formulae for love or on the hidden structures in the fiction of Thomas Pynchon. Most importantly, however, Harris issues a clarion call for the autonomy of research in our time. He defends–fiercely and lucidly–the pursuit of understanding without recourse to commercial interests or other principles of utility. This is an original and passionate book; Michael Harris has fashioned much-needed luminous arguments for the cause of intellectual independence.”–Marina Warner, professor of English and creative writing, Birkbeck, University of London, and author of Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights

Mathematics without Apologies is a math book like no other. Harris mixes number theory, literary criticism, and philosophy into a powerful meditation on mathematics as it is really practiced, vaporizing all clichés and romantic myths within his astoundingly broad reach.”–Jordan Ellenberg, author of How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

“Harris’s book is a wonderfully accomplished mix of many things: an auto-ethnography of a charismatic mathematician; an extended conversation regarding beauty, truth, and the good in pure mathematics; a reflection on the doing and practice of it; and an unapologetic embrace of the playfulness of mathematical thought.”–Brian Rotman, professor emeritus, Ohio State University

“Michael Harris opens the doors and gently guides you into a magic world. Once inside, you can’t help but feel mesmerized, eager to see how deep the rabbit hole goes. And no wonder: a major thinker of our time is talking to you about math and so much more, like you’ve never heard before.”–Edward Frenkel, author of Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality

“Here is a quilted book about mathematical practice, each patch wonderfully prepared. Part invitation to number theory, part autobiography, part sociology of mathematical training, Mathematics without Apologies brings us into contemporary mathematics as a living, active inquiry by real people. Anyone wanting a varied, cultured, and penetrating view of today’s mathematics could find no better place to engage.”–Peter Galison, author of Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps: Empires of Time

“In Mathematics without Apologies, an important mathematician reports to outsiders straight from the frontier of knowledge. Alternating chapters of more traditional popularization with a sophisticated essayistic discourse that naturally blends the historical, the autobiographical, and the philosophical, Michael Harris manages to convey the complexity, the magic, and the near-mystical quality of modern mathematical research.”–Apostolos Doxiadis, coauthor of Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth and author of Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture: A Novel of Mathematical Obsession

“Becoming a mathematician is like becoming a musician. The apprentice must master the technique, but along the way he also has to develop an aesthetic sense. Only then can he become a master in his own right. In this lively book, Harris examines the mathematician’s craft from every angle, from the elementary and familiar to the sophisticated and exotic, and questions the ethics of using mathematics in finance. Mathematics without Apologies is a very personal book dealing with timeless questions.”–Ivar Ekeland, mathematician and economist, author of The Best of All Possible Worlds and The Cat in Numberland

“As the only child of John von Neumann, I have long tried to understand what it is that mathematicians do. Michael Harris addresses the question from every angle. I still don’t have a complete handle on the answer, but I’m certainly puzzled at a much higher level than before.”–Marina von Neumann Whitman, University of Michigan

“Harris offers a unique and passionate view of the life and work of contemporary mathematicians. Rich in detail and marvelously broad in scope, Mathematics without Apologies gives an unforgettable account of the frustrations, elations, and sheer wonder of doing mathematics.”–Barry Mazur, Harvard University

“Mathematical high culture collides with pop culture and all hell breaks loose! Harris takes us on a wild ride–never a dull moment!”–Gregory Chaitin, author of Proving Darwin: Making Biology Mathematical

Mathematics without Apologies is a work of relentless intelligence that depicts Harris’s experience of mathematics, but it is not at all a mathematician’s autobiography. It is a madly erudite and creative reflection on the mathematical life.”–Colin McLarty, author of Elementary Categories, Elementary Toposes

“Harris vividly conveys what it is to work as a researcher in pure mathematics today. Through a series of novel and unexpected perspectives, he transforms readers’ preconceptions of this activity. What we encounter here are the reflections of an erudite mathematician, uncommonly well read outside his field, on the nature and purpose of his subject.”–David Corfield, author of Towards a Philosophy of Real Mathematics

2 thoughts on “Endorsements

    1. mathematicswithoutapologies Post author

      Thank you very much for this link. I was grateful for Mahan Mj’s generous review last year, and I’m particularly gratified that he chose in this interview to highlight my use of the words “pathos” and “charisma” in their positive sense.

      The interview is also a model of clear exposition of a high-level mathematical concept.



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