A Quick History of Math by Clive Gifford ★★★★★ #BookReview #BookBlog

Primary Genre(s): Children’s Nonfiction
Published:  6 April 2021 by Quarto Publishing Group – Wide Eyed Editions
Page count: 128
My Format: ebook via NetGalley
Cover: Fun
Pacing: N/A
Ending: N/A  
Do I Recommend: Yes!
Commission Link (U.S.): Buy A Quick History of Math

My rating: ★★★★★

Math + history + jokes – boring bits = A Quick History of Math. This book begins around 43,000 years ago with a notched baboon leg, the Lebombo bone (the very first mathematical object in the world) and rushes us past Hindu numerals and the invention of zero, via Pythagoras, Pascal and probability, right up to the present day, with big data and the maths that rules our digital lives. Geometri-cool!
You will discover:

  • How to count on your fingers (there are more ways than you might think!)
  • Why we have 60 seconds in a minute (hint: it’s to do with the ancient Babylonians)
  • How to count like an Egyptian (using hieroglyphs)
  • Why it’s hip to be square using square numbers
  • A Pythagorean party trick
  • The naked truth of Archimedes’ bath time mathematics
  • How to do matha-magic with magic squares
  • …and much more.

In chronological order from pre-history to present day, this is the story of math itself. It’s 43,000 years of human mathematical endeavor squeezed into one book for your reading pleasure. Illustrated with funny cartoons and packed with fascinating facts, you’ll be laughing and learning how to be a better mathematician.

My Thoughts
As an engineer and a former math tutor, I knew I had to read this book! Here are my pros and cons for A Quick History of Math:


  1. This book is FUNNY! I absolutely loved how it took a subject that a lot of people struggle with and not only made it understandable, but made it funny, too!
  2. Most of the math information is broken down with simple explanations and fantastic illustrations. Some of it gets a little complex, but if a reader is interested enough, the basic concepts are clearly described.
  3. The illustrations, by Michael Young, range from technical and useful to ridiculous and hilarious!
  4. Have I mentioned the book is funny?  😊
  5. The book covers concepts from caveman math (notches on bones for counting) all the way to future math concepts and possibilities.
  6. The back of the book contains a timeline of math discoveries, a short section about consequences of math mistakes, some mental math challenges (with an answer key), and a glossary!  I love it when technical children’s books include a glossary!
  7. This book is written for ages 8 to 12 years old, but honestly, it should just say 8 and up. This book is so well-done, that I think anyone with even a passing interest in math or history would enjoy it.



Are you going to become a skilled mathematician after reading this book? No. Are you going to learn something about math or math history and laugh while you are learning? Absolutely YES!

I love that books like this exist for kids today and I honestly believe every teacher should have this in their classroom!

Thank you NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Wide Eyed Editions for a free eARC of this book, which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.  

If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy A Quick History of Math. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Click here for a description of my rating scale.

(image from Goodreads)

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2 thoughts on “A Quick History of Math by Clive Gifford ★★★★★ #BookReview #BookBlog

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