Joseph Brannigan Lynch
October 28, 2009 AT 04:00 AM EDT

When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish

Current Status
In Season
Martin Gardner
Hill and Wang
Nonfiction, Essays

We gave it a B

From 1956 to 1981, Martin Gardner — who’s now 95 years old, with more than 70 books under his belt — renewed America’s interest in math with his popular, often funny “Mathematical Games” column in Scientific American. He brings the same humor and intellectual stimulation to the topics at hand in When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish. His smackdowns of Ann Coulter, parapsychology, and intelligent design are witty but never snide. He uses simple questions to topple the foundations of arguments instead of maliciously ripping them apart. Some of the essays showcase his softer side, like the one that explores the long-forgotten connection between Santa Claus and the land of Oz. B

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