Sand-Reckoner

Gillian Bradshaw, Author
Gillian Bradshaw, Author Forge $23.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-87340-0
Paperback - 351 pages - 978-0-312-87581-7
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-613-34929-1
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-312-70370-7
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4299-7116-4
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Armed with just a few antique facts, Bradshaw ably recreates the extraordinary life of Archimedes, the great mathematician and engineer who built sophisticated weapons during the first Punic War. Archimedes lived in the Greek city of Syracuse from 287 to 212 B.C., except for a brief but glorious youthful stint in Alexandria, the hub of intellectual life in the classical age. Surrounded by men who share his genius for geometry, the absentminded Archimedes becomes intoxicated by numbers, often scribbling diagrams on tablecloths and staring for hours into a box of sand to calculate grains. After three years, he begrudgingly returns to his hometown with his slave, Marcus, to find his father dying and his city at war with the Romans. Putting his engineering skills to use for the army, Archimedes builds bigger and better catapults, and he is soon being courted for his talent by the good King Hieron. Jealous co-workers and an unexpected betrayal shadow Archimedes's rise to fame as the Archimechanic. But Syracuse is winning the war because of his inventions, and King Hieron gives him the royal treatment in an effort to keep him from accepting a job offer from King Ptolemy of Egypt. Archimedes sets his sights on Delia, King Hieron's half-sister, with whom he shares a love of music, but he must choose between her and the fair city of Alexandria, between a career as a simple engineer and the siren call of pure mathematics. Bradshaw (Island of Ghosts) is skilled at bringing historical figures to life, and this intriguing and entertaining novel of the boyish dreamer who possessed one of the ancient world's most brilliant minds demonstrates her vivid imagination. (Apr.)
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