In this book, the word “begat” means “supervised during the acquisition of a Ph.D.” The listings are separated into “schools” based on nations, for example there is the German, Russian, and American schools. The section for each school begins with a “family tree” of the most significant students of the professors and this is followed by short biographies of the mathematicians that were listed in the tree. There are 17 different schools described in the book and a short explanation of specific details about the school, such as what the names of the positions mean, is also included.
The skeleton of the biographies consists of the time and place of birth and death if applicable, dates of the awarding of degrees and institutions granting them, the title of their thesis and name of their supervisor, significant awards received, primary academic positions and major works and results. No biography is longer than two pages. Photos of many mathematicians are included.
This is a historical reference that can both satisfy your curiosity as well as answer questions that you may have regarding the high achievers in an academic lineage. Biological genealogy is an interest that most of us have; this book will satisfy the equivalent craving in terms of academic offspring. It is a good book for the table in the mathematics coffee room, something to look through during a few idle moments.
Charles Ashbacher splits his time between consulting with industry in projects involving math and computers, teaching college classes and co-editing The Journal of Recreational Mathematics. In his spare time, he reads about these things and helps his daughter in her lawn care business.