WHEN YOU WERE A TADPOLE AND I WAS A FISH (英語) ペーパーバック – 2010/9/28
"Smart, witty essays on science and culture." --Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
"Martin Gardner is indispensable. Here's the perfect introduction to the range of his obsessions--from Ann Coulter to the Wizard of Oz. With Gardner, the exercise of reason and taste is always a virtuoso performance." --William Poundstone, bestselling author of 12 books, including the forthcoming Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)
"Martin Gardner keeps knocking my socks off. After all these years, I thought I knew his work inside and out, but this latest collection is full of surprises. Alongside some Gardner classics (a celebration of the Fibonacci numbers, a debunking of parapsychology) we are treated to essays on Santa Claus, the sinking of the Titanic, and a 'one-poem poet' who turned the evolution of life on earth into a love story." --Brain Hayes, author of Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions
"Another provocative set of debunking essays from Mr. Gardner. Golden oldies, platinum perennials, contemporary cuties--however characterized, the pieces reveal once again the limpidity of his thought and the engagingness of his prose. Good stuff!" --John Allen Paulos, author of Innumeracy and Irreligion
"From Ann Coulter to the Anthropic Principle, Martin Gardner is a magician's magician, opening our minds to the crazy world around us. These essays are fun to read, and have deep roots and pointers to follow if you want to know more." --Persi Diaconis, Stanford University
Martin Gardner is the author of more than seventy books, as well as countless magazine articles and other shorter works. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma.
If you haven't read Gardner before, you might want to look a little earlier in his list to start - find something you like already and prepare to like it a lot more after adding Gardner into it. For instance, if you like the Alice books, be prepared to enjoy them a LOT more if you read Gardner's Annotated Alice. (Fair warning: If you DON'T like puzzles or mathematical diversions or scientific commentary, you may want to look somewhere else.)
Parts III and IV contain the math and logic stuff, and it's about 35 pages total. Nothing special there; it doesn't approach the quality of his earlier puzzle efforts. I suppose it's hard to keep coming up with classics, but nonetheless there's just not enough here to buy the book expecting vintage Gardner puzzle work.
The rest is mostly Gardner going on about various subjects that bother him. I actually agree with him on many of the areas he covers, especially the irritations of bogus science. But the treatment is heavy-handed and preachy. It doesn't have the light touch I expect from Gardner.
For example, I don't care for Ann Coulter myself and I consider her creationist stance positively ludicrous, but reading Gardner tear into her was just boring. His ruminations on religion and politics are similarly long-winded, unoriginal, and just not worth spending your time on. He picks on religious nuts I've never heard of, and expresses admiration for characters such as Norman Thomas, who he describes as "America's leading socialist". Fine, Martin, if you lean that way, but that's certainly not why I read your books.
This isn't a particularly long book (about 230 pages) but it felt long. If you are looking for something upbeat and entertaining, look somewhere else.
** Update 23 May 2010 ***
Martin Gardner passed away yesterday. He was 95. May he rest in peace.
He wrote many, many excellent books in his lifetime, for which many of us are immensely grateful. Unfortunately, this isn't one of them.