Along with Ivars Peterson's books on math, I suppose this has changed my life, too. I was going to study history. Math? Who cared about math? Math was for those science-types. I had an image of mathematicians as bespectacled, socially-inept, hunch-shouldered gnomes who lived in universities and ventured out of their burrows for--well, maybe they didn't venture out at all. The joke's on me. I'm a math major now. This book is one of the reasons. I've always loved history: the march of events, the ebb and flow of cause and effect and unexpected accident. I didn't realize that math, too, had a history, an ebb and flow. If I'd ever thought about it, I would have realized that an angel didn't come down from the heavens bearing The Big Book of Math, complete with proofs. But that's what it seemed like, until I read about the almost architectural building of theorem upon theorem, idea upon idea. Math wasn't a Big Book; it evolved and grew. Grows still, I should say. Did numbers exist? Well, of course they existed. Wait a second. What *is* a number anyway? How *does* one exist? Would they exist if there were no people? And so I learned that math, too, has its philosophies. Most of all, I learned that mathematicians were and are people, not gnomes in burrows who have nothing to do with the rest of the world. That math is important for more than the homework assignments that plagued my high school evening hours. That math is worth studying. If you could convey this to heaven knows how many disgruntled and frustrated math students around the world, I wonder if they might like the subject better. I sure did.
I first read this book 14 years ago when I was 14. It made me want to be a mathematician, even then and I ended up doing maths at university. So I can genuinely say this book did change my life, as I was going to be an England cricketer prior to reading it!