Constantin Caratheodory (Berlin 1873-1950 Munich) - Mathematics and Politics in Turbulent Times is a biography of a mathematician who became famous during his life, but has hitherto been ignored by historians for half a century after his death.
In a thought-provoking approach, Maria Georgiadou devotes to Constantin Caratheodory all the attention such a personality deserves. With breathtaking detail and the appropriate scrutiny she elucidates his oeuvre, life and turbulent political/historical surroundings: descending from the Greek elite of Constantinople, Caratheodory graduated from the military school of Brussels, became engineer at the Assiout dam in Egypt and finally dedicated a life of effort to mathematics and education. He studied and embarked on an international academic career, haunted by wars, catastrophes and personal tragedies. Over the last years of his life, he stayed in Munich despite World War II, an ambiguous decision upon which the author sheds unprecedented light.
Caratheodory's most significant mathematical contributions were to the calculus of variations, the theory of point set measure, and the theory of functions of a real variable, pdes, also to complex function theory.
The interdisciplinarity of the text allows easy access for both scholars and readers with a general interest in mathematics, politics and history. The thoroughness of the author's research and evaluations is certain to leave everyone impressed and more knowledgeable.
From the reviews:
"This book is an immense labour of love. It a monument to the greatest of modern Greek mathematicians and one of the greatest mathematicians of the first half of the twentieth century. ... Speaking for myself, I am glad to have read this book. It helped me understand the depth and influence of Caratheodory's mathematics and provided a window onto the German mathematical establishment in the Indian summer of its greatness." (Tom Korner, British Society of the History of Mathematics Bulletin, Issue no. 4, 2005)
"The author devotes Constantin Caratheodory all the attention such a personality deserves. With detail and scrutiny she elucidates his oeuvre, life and turbulent political and historical surroundings. ... The interdisciplinary nature of the text allows access for both scholars and readers with interest in mathematics, politics and history." (Zentralblatt fur Didaktik der Mathematik, January, 2005)
"With amazing breadth and depth, Georgiadou provides both an excellent historical reference and a compelling account of one of the foremost mathematicians of the twentieth century. ... Maria Georgiadou has put a significant effort ... that illuminate aspects of Caratheodory's life. Her well-organized and detail-oriented book presents his personal and mathematical life within a broader historical and cultural context that is needed to understand many striking details." (Loukas Grafakos, American Mathematical Monthly, June/July, 2004)
"Maria Georgiadou has produced a remarkable account of Caratheodory's life and times. Her narrative is woven from original sources ... . Everything is meticulously documented with hundreds of footnotes. There are facsimiles of original documents and many interesting photographs. ... The book contains a wealth of information ... paints a fascinating portrait of Constantin Caratheodory and the vanished world in which he lived. It will be considered the definitive biography for many years to come." (P.L. Duren, Mathematical Reviews, 2005h)