Logo New Dutch Writing


Pluses and Minuses

Pluses and Minuses

Pluses and Minuses by Stefan Buijsman, translation: Andy Brown
(Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2020, 208 pages.)

What is the relationship between the number of films Nicolas Cage appears in and the number of deaths by drowning in swimming pools?

How in 1850s London did John Snow calculate the relationship between the city’s water suppliers and the number of deaths from cholera?

If we consider that the Mesopotamians were the first to use numbers when counting supplies with clay tokens, how did something that began so practical turn into something we now often think of as frighteningly abstract? More importantly, in a world becoming increasingly complex, why is understanding the basics more important than ever? Pluses and Minuses is a book for those who are scared of mathematics. In it, Buijsman demystifies the world of numbers, offering a concise and delightfully readable history and demonstrating its close connection with the necessities of our daily lives.