John Allen Paulos writes in The New York Times that Amir Alexander's book Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World "shows that mathematics can...become entangled in ugliness hot and messy."
Alexander's book describes how the 17th-century dispute about the proper understanding of continua both stoked and was fed by the religious tensions of the day.
The battle Alexander recounts, Paulos says, is not over:
A trace of the dynamic that animated fierce struggles between Jesuit mathematicians and the infinitesimalists, as well as between Hobbes and Wallis, can be found today.
Read the review.