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Euclid’s Elements

Dana Densmore, editor; translated by T. L. Heath
Green Lion Press
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The Basic Library List Committee considers this book essential for undergraduate mathematics libraries.

[Reviewed by
Fernando Q. Gouvêa
, on

Those of us who teach (or would like to teach) Euclid's Elements will welcome this book enthusiastically. Thomas L. Heath's three-volume edition of Euclid, originally published in 1908 with a second edition in 1926, is still in print (from Dover) and is relatively inexpensive, but for classroom use it is less than ideal. For one thing, it is in three volumes. More seriously, Heath's edition contains extensive commentary, and it is almost inevitable that students will end up spending more time reading Heath than reading Euclid. And while Heath's translation has held up well, not all of his interpretations have.

This book solves those problems by presenting the full text of Heath's Euclid in one handsome volume. The production values of this edition are very high: the margins are wide, the paper is of good quality, diagrams are always on the same page as the text that refers to them (if necessary, diagrams are repeated to achieve this). The editor has done some (very light) revising of Heath's text, mainly to deal with material that Heath presented in brackets for various reasons. These decisions are explained in the introduction.

A very nice short biography of Heath and a glossary of important Euclidean words add to the value of the book. If you want your students to really grapple with Euclid, this is the edition to choose.

Fernando Q. Gouvêa is the editor of MAA Focus and MAA Online.

The table of contents is not available.