## Book Review: **The Art of More: How Mathematics Created Civilization**, Michael Brooks

Nonfiction/Math: **The Art of More: ****How Mathematics Created Civilization**, Michael Brooks

Let’s start by stating the obvious: this book is not for every reader. Michael Brooks loves math. He loves it the way I like blueberry pie. And he makes a compelling argument that math, even more than language, is what separates humans from animals and what drove the innovations that created our modern world. I could not make that same argument for blueberry pie, but I still like it better than I do math.

Brooks does include quite a bit of math in the book, though the book is quite enjoyable even if you kind of skip over the equations and geek-speak that comes with it. (Yes, I know this from reading *most* of the book, except for kind of skipping over the….) The math illustrates his main point: modern civilization rests on a foundation of numbers. Well, numbers and letters and symbols and equations and stuff I should have learned in calculus almost 40 years ago but didn’t.

Why are we able to predict the trajectory of a pandemic? Math. Why are we able to predict the impact of a vaccine? Math. Why are we able to fly, let alone fly into space? Math. Why are we able to build skyscrapers, view cat videos on the Internet, call grandma in Milwaukee, trade stocks with brokers in Hong Kong, hold elections with millions of voters, transport goods from Kenya to Kentucky? Math, math, math, and more math.

Fortunately, math is so baked into our lives that most of us don’t actually need to have mastered the intricacies in order to thrive. I could not tell you the difference between an actuarial table and a coffee table, but I could not do my day job without it (the actuarial table, though coffee is pretty important, too.) I can drive a car built by math, refuel it with gas discovered by math, live in my house designed with math, buy my groceries which arrive on the shelves because of math, do my banking involving lots of other people doing math, and write random book reviews on the Internet that you can read because of math. All this, and math and I fell out when they started using letters.

Just because I am personally math-phobic, I still truly appreciate the value of math. There may literally be no part of my life that is not rooted in mathematics. Math built the modern world, math powers the existing world, and math continues to shape the future world. I mean, I won’t be doing it myself (though one of our sons majored in math, so there’s hope that someone in the family might be doing it). Michael Brooks has taken the history, philosophy, and personalities of mathematics and put them together in a book that truly is **The Art of More**.

Book Review: **The Art of More: ****How Mathematics Created Civilization**, Michael Brooks