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Which is a good book on math History?

I want to give it as a gift to a mathematician.

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Do you know what type of things interest them? What is their area? Are you looking for a general book, or perhaps a biography of a particular mathematician? Some more information always helps. – Eric Naslund Jan 2 '12 at 6:37
Maybe this thread helps: – t.b. Jan 2 '12 at 6:38
"God created the integers", a collection of translations of classic texts assembled by Stephen Hawking (or published under his name, anyway), is good in my view. (At least, I am a mathematician who received it as a gift from a family member one Christmas, and I was very pleased to get it.) – Matt E Jan 2 '12 at 6:48
I had two copies of an book on the history of computers and the effects of computers on our lives. I eventually just gave the extra copy to a computer science Ph.D. student, guy who played soccer with me. He said "You're giving this to ME?" meaning that there was little chance a book I had picked out in his topic had much to tell him. So bear that in mind. Something in the nature of a diversion might be better, and less likely to already be owned. – Will Jagy Jan 2 '12 at 6:53

Though not strictly a history book, The Princeton Companion to Mathematics is a book I'd like to get as a gift but probably wouldn't buy.

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Really? I bought myself a copy, as did at least one other math person I know. Totally worth the price. – Qiaochu Yuan Jan 3 '12 at 6:13
@QiaochuYuan, sure, the book is totally worth the price. – lhf Jan 3 '12 at 11:15
I bought it. But I probably wouldn't have except that right after it came out I happened to have a hundred dollars worth of miscellaneous coins which I brought to the bank, so it felt like free money. – Michael Lugo Feb 17 '12 at 19:28

"Mathematics and its History", by John Stillwell.

"Men of mathematics", by Eric Temple bell- awesome set of biographies of mathematicians from Archimedes to Poincare.

Leonard Dickson's "History of number theory".

"A beautiful mind" by Sylvia Nasar, a biography of John Nash, but gives VERY good glimpses of Math and its History esp. during 20th century.

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Some of the stuff in Bell's work is nice, but a bit embellished in places. The section on Galois is particularly notorious... – J. M. Jan 2 '12 at 10:05
yes, that's true. I included it particularly because of the passion with which he writes. – NikBels Jan 2 '12 at 10:07

I enjoyed reading the biographies of Hilbert and Courant by Constance Reid very much.

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I read Journey Through Genius a while ago and I absolutely loved it. Highly recommended.

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The average user review is pretty high on Amazon. This is a must read for all Mathematics lovers. – DeveloperInToronto Feb 17 '12 at 19:19

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