For a teacher of mathematics, this book might not be an ideal reference for use in classes. Mathematicians teachers who plan to enrich their classroom teaching experience will have little use for this book. The fact that it was written for a general audience and with the intent of making it a commercial success has taken away rigor and depth of analysis from its content. For example, the author infuses the narrative with ample drama and suspense surrounding the protagonist’s personal and political life that mathematics takes a backseat at times. In the author’s defense, it could be argued that he does not want to break up the prose structure with mathematical equations and formulae. Notwithstanding this information, the book does not find a place in maths classrooms. But for students of history (especially French history), culture and post-Napoleonic politics, this is a wonderful resource. If I were a history or political science teacher, I would see to it that the book is included in the syllabus. It could be used as both a core text or as part of an extended reading list. While the content might be a bit difficult to comprehend for a high-school pupil, it would fit perfectly with graduate course syllabuses.
In contrast to its questionable utility as a maths resource, The French Mathematician can be very useful for teacher training programs. There is much that aspiring teachers can learn from the writing style of author Petsinis. As teachers would be required to design and compose study materials in their careers, an exposure to the high-quality writing style of Petsinis is a valuable experience. One element that they would absorb from such an exercise is understanding the importance of keeping audience attention. Good teachers happen to be those who manage to gain the attention of the class right through the lecture. And the narrative technique employed by the author can be instructive in this regard.
Petsinis, Tom. The French Mathematician. New York: Tom Petsinis, 1997.