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Bourbaki: A Secret Society of Mathematicians
Maurice Mashaal, Pour la Science, Paris, France

2006; 168 pp; softcover
ISBN-10: 0-8218-3967-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8218-3967-6
List Price: US$32
Member Price: US$25.60
Order Code: BOURBAKI
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The name Bourbaki is known to every mathematician. Many also know something of the origins of Bourbaki, yet few know the full story. In 1935, a small group of young mathematicians in France decided to write a fundamental treatise on analysis to replace the standard texts of the time. They ended up writing the most influential and sweeping mathematical treatise of the twentieth century, Les élements de mathématique.

Maurice Mashaal lifts the veil from this secret society, showing us how heated debates, schoolboy humor, and the devotion and hard work of the members produced the ten books that took them over sixty years to write. The book has many first-hand accounts of the origins of Bourbaki, their meetings, their seminars, and the members themselves. He also discusses the lasting influence that Bourbaki has had on mathematics, through both the Élements and the Seminaires. The book is illustrated with numerous remarkable photographs.

To read a review published in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, click here.


General mathematical audience.


"There are marvelous biographical essays; a fine account of the actual historical figure, Nicholas Bourbaki ... highly appealing stuff ... fantastic pictures ... It's great fun."

-- MAA Reviews

"The author, Maurice Mashaal, portrays the protagonists of the secret society and describes their aims, successes, and failures in an entertaining and refreshingly readable style."

-- translated from Neue Zürcher Zeitung

"(The) book provides a highly interesting and elucidating account on the once very mysterious Bourbaki group, with numerous new facts, original quotations, propaedeutical explanations, historical reminiscences, biographical sketches, and many rare photographs. This book makes the personage of Nicolas Bourbaki vividly palpable for a wide public, thereby turning a modern fable into an authentic report."

-- Zentralblatt Math

"The author lifts the secret of Bourbaki and presents a well-investigated history of this group and mathematicians. ... The result is a very readable and informative story."

-- Karl-Heinz Schlote, Mathematical Reviews

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