West Point's Scientific 200: Celebration of the Bicentennial

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WEST POINT'S SCIENTIFIC 200: CELEBRATION OF THE BICENTENNIAL by Chris Arney Palmetto Bookworks, 2002, 291 pp.

West Point's Scientific 200: Celebration of the Bicentennial is a well-written and unusual reference work for students and teachers of the history of mathematics. Written as part of West Point's bicentennial celebration, the book is also an obvious labor of love by the author Chris Arney, who taught mathematics at the United States Military Academy (USMA) for 18 years. Arney has compiled biographical information on 200 of the USMA's "most successful and influential mathematicians, engineers, and technologists". All of the men listed are USMA graduates who contributed to mathematics, science, technology or education. West Point's Scientific 200 also includes historical essays on military-scientific organizations like the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Coast Survey, and on the development of the mathematics and science curricula at the USMA.

Like all high-quality biographical anthologies, West Point's Scientific 200 is a book that invites browsing. Every page has something of interest to offer. The scientists and engineers listed include some very well-known names from United States political history and major players in the development of science and mathematics education in the United States, as well as those lesser known scholars who made an impact on the development of the USMA.

For example, the first mathematician listed is Sylvanus Thayer (1785-1872) who taught mathematics at the USMA from 1809-1811. Thayer was a strong proponent of a liberal arts and sciences education for engineers. Arney tells us that Thayer felt "that an understanding of the economic, cultural, historical, and political environment in which technology would be developed and applied was necessary for quality engineering". …