Top critical review
The information is there, but the presentation is frustrating and unhelpful
Reviewed in the United States on July 19, 2009
I've had an unhappy history with calculus, and after walking away from the whole business and not looking back for many years, finally I decided to go back and find a book that would help me get started again.
Ideally, what I wanted was a book that would start me off by helping to grasp the basics, and then get to work solving some simple problems to build my confidence. Only after I had thus been primed and encouraged would the book move on to the real meat-and-bones.
So that was my ideal. And this was the first book I settled upon, and now I can only say I wish I hadn't. From the first page, I was puzzling over opaque explanations that (for me at least) did more to confuse the issue than to explain, and the problems given never seemed relevant or intuitive. I was never sure what exactly I was supposed to be learning as I tried to work through each problem.
The book keeps closely to what I think of as the high school model of math lessons: here are the formulas, and here are a lot of problems where you can plug in these formulas. Go. Except I never know what the formulas are for, where they came from, or why I'm supposed to be plugging them in.
I don't know. For someone who is already taking a calculus course and just wants practice problems, or someone who takes pleasure in just "getting the answer" without any need for a meaning behind it, maybe this book would be great. For me, it was frustrating and unhelpful.
Eventually I swallowed my pride and bought the "Complete Idiot's Guide to Calculus", which served me much better. I just can't allow myself to be seen reading it in public, lest my carefully-hidden Complete Idiot status finally be discovered.