David Berlinski Writer, Thinker, and Raconteur



The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions (Crown Forum, 2008; Basic Books paperback edition, 2009): A secular Jew, David Berlinski delivers a biting defense of faith against its critics in the New Atheist movement. “The attack on traditional religious thought,” writes Berlinski, “marks the consolidation in our time of science as the single system of belief in which rational men and women might place their faith, and if not their faith, then certainly their devotion.”

Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics (Modern Library, 2005): Berlinski tells the story of mathematics, bringing to life with wit, elegance, and deep insight a 2,500-year-long intellectual adventure. The book focuses on the ten most important breakthroughs in mathematical history—and the men behind them.

The Secrets of the Vaulted Sky: Astrology and the Art of Prediction (Houghton Mifflin, 2003): Berlinski explains the power of humanity’s oldest predictive system, a method once widely used but now widely discredited, especially by scientific critics with little knowledge of astrology itself. With a genius for storytelling and penetrating analysis, Berlinski shows us how astrology works and how astrological ideas, although disguised, have reappeared in modern scientific theories.

The Advent of the Algorithm: The 300-Year Journey from an Idea to the Computer (Harcourt, 2000): Simply put, an algorithm is a set of instructions-it’s the code that makes computers run. Berlinski combines science, history, and math to explain and explore the intriguing story of how the algorithm was finally discovered by a succession of mathematicians and logicians, and how this paved the way for the digital age.

Newton’s Gift: How Sir Isaac Newton Unlocked the System of the World (Free Press, 2000): It was Newton who conceived the imperial vision of mathematical physics and Newton again who created the first and perhaps the greatest of scientific theories. In this witty, engaging, and often moving examination of Newton’s life, David Berlinski recovers the man behind the mathematical breakthroughs.

A Tour of the Calculus (Pantheon, 1996): In clear and instructive language David Berlinski explains the concept of limits, how a function describes a relationship between numbers, and more. Berlinski explores humanity’s first attempt to represent the world and perhaps its greatest meditation on the theme of continuity.

Black Mischief: Language, Life, Logic, Luck  (William Morrow, 1986): An enlightening and entertaining look at the science establishment—as well as the personalities behind the scenes—in such fields as behavioral psychology, linguistic, and economics.

On Systems Analysis: An Essay Concerning the Limitations of Some Mathematical Methods in the Social, Political, and Biological Sciences (MIT Press, 1976): The beginning of a critical meditation, focusing on the sciences, that culminates in Berlinski’s final essay, “The State of the Matter,” in The Deniable Darwin.


The Body Shop: An Aaron Asherfeld Mystery (St. Martins, 1996): Hired by the accounting firm of Plumbeck and Ergenweiler to investigate the disappearance of the partners’ shared mistress, San Francisco investigator Aaron Asherfeld finds himself embroiled in a sexual harassment suit and a drug dealer’s pursuits.

Less Than Meets the Eye: An Aaron Asherfeld Mystery (St. Martins, 1994): Investigating the death of a philosophy professor at a fashionable northern California university, detective Aaron Asherfield interrogates the radical—and somewhat ridiculous—racial, sexual and intellectual factions at the college, each of which harbors a secret about the dead man.

A Clean Sweep: An Aaron Asherfeld Mystery (St. Martins, 1993): When San Francisco private eye Aaron Asherfield is hired to track down a missing businessman, his investigation takes on a kinky dimension as he meets a host of characters from the city’s sleazy underside.