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Book Review: Mandelbrot the Magnificent, by Liz Ziemska

Logic sometimes makes monsters.

Absolutely magical.

These are the best two words I can use to describe this novella. Liz Ziemska has taken one of the fore figures of mathematics, delved into his history and created a story that will open your eyes (albeit briefly) to the pure wonder and beauty that is mathematics.

I hated math at school. Beyond the basics for life, I failed to see how many of the equations and trigonometry would ever benefit me. I did enjoy tessellation however (anything that allowed some artistic intervention won me over in school) and Mandelbrot the Magnificent takes what we barely scratched the surface of in my early teens and takes it a whole new level.

Benoit Mandelbrot is an existing mathematical genius. He was born in Warsaw, Poland in the 1920’s. His parents, having seen enough of war to know what was coming made the decision to move to Paris a mere year before WW2 broke out. Little did they realise how devastating the war would become and the book details some of the horrors from the 12-year-old perspective of Benoit; just enough awareness mixed with innocence.

The story takes a look into how Benoit first became introduced to mathematics, through his Uncle, and the impact it had on his adolescent mind – and ultimately how it saved him and his family.

With the perfect mix of fact and magic, I loved every moment of devouring this book. It’s one that’s going to sit on my shelves and be read to my children in the hope they get the same spark of wonder towards maths it has given me.

This perfect little book won't take more than a few hours to read, but it will definitely leave you wanting more.

(I also can’t recommend enough reading up more about Benoit Mandelbrot and his contributions – truly amazing stuff!)


Find out what’s next on my reading list on Goodreads.


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