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Book Reviews

Review of The Beginnings and Evolution of Algebra

Editorial review
A history of algebra, starting with an account of its Babylonian beginnings and ending with a substantial account of major developments in the 19th century. While early chapters can be read by people with no more than a high school knowledge of mathematics, later chapters require familiarity with material usually presented in a course in abstract algebra. Bashmakova teaches in the department of mechanics and mathematics at Moscow State University. Smirnova has taught at Moscow State University since 1987. Member price $19.95.Book News, Inc.®, Portland, OR

Review of Algebra in the Concrete

Reviewed by Evelyn D. Saenz, from Boston
Mary Laycock found a way to show algebra in a fun and exciting, hands-on way that excites kids to play with first year algebra.

Review of Elementary Algebra: A Workbook for Reading, Writing, and Thinking about Mathematics

Editorial review
Engaging activities provide opportunities for students to explore and gain understanding about algebraic thinking. Through the Fabulous Function Machine, Professor Brangle's Balances, and the Morph Machine young students learn to solve real-world problems, building a solid foundation for tackling advanced algebraic reasoning in later grades.

Review of Algebra II: An Incremental Development

Reviewed by Manofjen@aol.com, from Dallas, Texas
I took public school math through ninth grade. I was in Algebra II at the time. I then transferred to a small Christian school that used Saxon material. I took it all the way through Physics and it was much easier to understand yet I found that I retained much more of the material.

Review of Algebra Two: An Incremental Development

Reviewed by a reader, from USA
this alebra book is great. it taught me geometry and advanced algebra at the same time. it is a combonation of two books in one.

Review of Algebra 1: An Incremental Development/Solutions Manual

Reviewed by a reader, from South Padre Island, Texas United States
The Solutions Manual offered through Amazon is for the 2d edition, not the 3rd, which has been out since 1997. Since no edition is mentioned in the write-up, I ordered it. Once received, I discovered that it was of no value to me in checking my son's homework. Now I've lost 4 - 6 more weeks of time while I wait for the Saxon Publishing cite to mail the current manual to me. In the meantime, I'm personally working 60 algebra problems nightly for my kids (30 for algebra 1 and 30 for algebra 2). It was a true disappointment. Be careful which edition you require.

Reviewed by Louise Dana, from Kalamazoo, Michigan
Saxon's explanations are lucid, but sometimes over-laboured; he's perfectly willing to repeat himself over and over. Following each chapter's explanation is a problem set of 30 or so problems, which tests the student on the latest concept and every single other concept covered so far. Needless to say, doing the same kind of problems over and over and over again gets very old. The one redeeming feature is Saxon's word problems, which are inventive and sometimes (as I found against my will) quite funny. Repetitive though the book is, though, it succeeds very well at teaching the student basic algebra; no one can go through this book and not know the material cold.

Reviewed by whipapino@aol.com, from California
This book helped me pass my class with flying colors.....ok buh by

Review of Algebra Unplugged

Editorial review
It's a remarkable little book by Kenn Amdahl, a poet and former math-phobe and Jim Loats, a math professor. Be advised that Algebra Unplugged does not take the approach that your high school math teacher and textbook took. It certainly answers some basic questions differently. Amdahl and Loats cover pretty much all the topics of first-year algebra and a great deal of earlier math that many kids don't really have a grip on. And they do it all in just 258 pages of remarkably readable and often hilarious text. Both of my daughters read the book. One, a true math-phobe probably managed to pass algebra in ninth grade as much because of this little book as because of her teacher. My other daughter profited as well, though she's a math lover. Bruce M. Smith, managing editor.

Reviewed by thepeskyangel, from Nottingham, UK
Algebra were one of the greatest avant-garde prog rock bands of the nineties. In "Algebra Unplugged" Amdahl and Loats have put together an incredible compilation of some of their best acoustic live sets. The production, is at times, a little weak, but the heart-rending "ax * ax + bx + c = 0" recorded live in Lecture Theatre 2.13 is probably one of Algebra's finest moments. There's some real gems on this album - The stunning 15 minute opus "Quadratic/Equivalence" being a case in point. A couple of tracks grate a little, most noticably - "Simplifying Exponents of Polynomials" but on the whole this is a magnificent album and is not to be missed.

Reviewed by cloudia, from Seattle, WA United States
Best of all the authors explain what it is you're doing when you do algebra. Why doesn't it make sense in the real world? Because it's a game. The conventions may seem arbitrary but the rules are not. The authors multiply things like tenors and pigs and divide them by all kinds of non-mathematical things in order to illustrate the logic of mathematical thinking. They also show that people are thinking algebraically even when they don't know they're doing so. This is a great book if you took algebra a long time ago and are not sure you remember the differences between the various mathematical disciplines. It's also good if you are the type who wants everything explained to you in math, rather than taking it on faith. It won't replace the standard textbook, but it will show you how to use it.

Reviewed by irwin shapiro, from Hillsborough, NJ United States
dont bother with this book, unless you like that kids show ghostwriter. its the same concept.

Reviewed by a reader, from Denver, CO United States
My main problem with algebra is that no one ever told me what it really is, besides a bunch of equations. I also couldn't understand why factoring was so important. I'm happy to report that this book tells you what algebra is for and why factoring is important, and much more, and does do in a way that even the math-challenged can easily grasp. It also reassures the reader by saying that it's okay to need to read and reread the book to get a firm grasp on concepts. It is possibly the only math book I have ever read that didn't make me feel like an idiot, make giant assumptions, or skimp on the explanations. Although I don't think I will ever be close friends with math, this book makes it possible to negotiate an armed truce and (I hope) to succeed in college algebra after 10 years of doing no math more strenuous than balancing my checkbook.The only drawback to this book is the embarrassing number of typos, but they detract only slightly from the text.

Review of The Algebra Tutor: Algebra I and II

Reviewed by Preston, from New York City, USA
I purchased this book after circling the aisles of my local bookstore for over an hour. It was the only one which was straight-forward, concise, and repetitive. Most study guides are geared toward prepping students for standardized tests.I was never good at math, and always hated doing it. There was no way around it though, when I decided to go back to college for a science degree and had to get myself ready for calculus. The Algebra Tutor's review of Algebra I & II concepts provided a great start. Mr. Thomas first introduces a vital concept, then gives examples, and finally lets the student practice-usually with 12 problems. This format is repeated in 51 lessons, giving a comprehensive survey of Algebra topics and operations. Answers to every problem are in the back of the book, making it easy to check one's work. He even gives look-alike problems for those which are likely to give students trouble.**The only problem I found was a number of type-o's, probably 10 or 12 in the book. Occasionally, problems had the wrong sign (multiplication instead of division) or exponents were written as coefficients (instead of in superscript). But, as the author explains in the preface, friends of his typed every page to get it ready for printing. This is no mass market texbook. I discovered the errors when I checked my work and came up with the given answers by inferring what the author probably meant to write.Completing this self tutoring course was, in fact, so enjoyable that I now have an altogether different opinion of math. I wish textbooks used in public schools would follow the example of Mr. Thomas' book. Fewer students would need tutors in the first place if they were taught using the Algebra Tutor's no nonsense method. This book proves that you don't have to be 'taught' math on a chalkboard or (ugh) overhead projector. You can teach yourself!

Review of Real World Algebra

Editorial review
"If you've been asked by students the inevitable question, 'When will we use this?' this book is for you."


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