There’s a long & critical review of Unknown Quantity in the current (June 9) issue of Science. You can’t get at it without a subscription, so I’ve put it (intact, I swear) on my website here.
The reviewer is Prof. Victor Katz of the University of DC. A lot of his criticisms strike me as nit-picky. Even assuming he’s right (I’ll bet he is–he’s an expert in the field) about the Babylonians, I’m not sure I would have said anything other than what I said, for the readership I’m aiming for. Similarly with his carping about Cartesian geometry. Given the constraints of space I was working with, and my chosen style of presentation, I don’t think I’d have said anything more about Descartes than I did. (I did in fact say a great deal more in my first draft; but that draft, said my editor, was 20 percent too long, and I cut the detailed Descartes stuff as not being, as starlets say, essential to the plot. You can only include so much.) I have an ugly feeling he has me dead to rights on Cardano, though–I shall check next time I’m around the Ars Magna.
Incidentally, I mention one of Prof. Katz’s books in UQ (page 330). There’s gratitude for you. But reviews are like a box of chocolates–you never know what you’re going to get. Ask Ramesh.