cover image Undiluted Hocus-Pocus: 
The Autobiography of Martin Gardner

Undiluted Hocus-Pocus: The Autobiography of Martin Gardner

Martin Gardner. Princeton Univ., $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-691-15991-1

Polymath Gardner—writer, amateur magician, religious philosopher, pseudoscience debunker, and mathematical hobbyist—gives readers a conversational look into his diverse life and interests outside the cultural mainstream, from religion, science fiction, and poetry to magic, chess, and learning to play the saw (“If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly”). After leading a “double life” as an amateur magician and philosophy major at the University of Chicago, Gardner was determined to make a living as a writer. Along the way, he held a string of jobs, including a stint in the Navy during WWII, and eventually landed in New York City, where his “Mathematical Games” column in Scientific American ran for more than 25 years—leading to friendships with cutting-edge mathematicians and scientists, as well as a vital secondary career debunking “bad science.” Readers who only know Gardner for his math and science writing will be surprised at his focus on religion, and this autobiography demonstrates his passion to explain and understand the world around him. (Oct.)