Introduction to The Penguin Book of Curious and Interesting Puzzles
David Wells’ “The Penguin Book of Curious and Interesting Puzzles” is a fascinating collection of puzzles and riddles that spans centuries of human history. The book is organized into three main sections, with the first section covering puzzles from ancient Egypt and Babylon up to the 19th century, the second section focusing on the great puzzlers of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and the final section exploring the puzzles and riddles of the 20th century. While the book does not claim to be a comprehensive history of puzzles, it provides an excellent overview of the different types of puzzles that have entertained people throughout history.
Section One: Puzzles from Ancient Times to the 19th Century
The first section of the book is a fascinating journey through the puzzles of ancient civilizations. Such as the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians, up to the 19th century. The puzzles in this section are not limited to math and logic problems but also include word puzzles, rebuses, and riddles. Wells provides excellent commentary on the origins of each puzzle and offers suggestions for how to solve them. One of the standout puzzles in this section is the famous Knight’s Tour puzzle. Which has fascinated mathematicians and puzzlers for centuries.
Section Two: The Great Puzzlers of the 19th and Early 20th Centuries
The second section of the book focuses on the great puzzlers of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is including Sam Loyd, Henry Dudeney, Lewis Carroll, and Eduard Lucas. These puzzlers were instrumental in the development of mathematical recreations, and their puzzles remain popular to this day. Wells provides an excellent overview of each puzzler’s contributions to the field of puzzling. Includes many of their most famous puzzles. One of the standout puzzles in this section is Loyd’s famous “15 Puzzle.” Which has been a favorite of puzzlers since its invention in the late 19th century.
Section Three: Puzzles of the 20th Century
The final section of the book explores the puzzles and riddles of the 20th century. These puzzles range from logic puzzles and brain teasers to word puzzles and rebuses. Wells provides an excellent selection of puzzles from the likes of Raymond Smullyan, Martin Gardner, and Will Shortz, among others. One of the standout puzzles in this section is the “Monty Hall Problem.” Which has been the subject of much debate and controversy among mathematicians and puzzlers.
Strengths of The Penguin Book of Curious and Interesting Puzzles
One of the strengths of the book is its inclusion of puzzles from a variety of different cultures and time periods. This diversity of puzzles makes the book a fascinating read and highlights the universal appeal of puzzles and riddles. Additionally, Wells’ commentary on the puzzles and their solutions is clear and concise. That making the book accessible to puzzlers of all skill levels.
Weakness of The Penguin Book of Curious and Interesting Puzzles
One potential weakness of the book is its exclusion of word puzzles. While Wells acknowledges the richness and variety of word puzzles. He chose to exclude them from this collection due to space limitations. However, he does provide references to other sources for those interested in exploring.
In conclusion, “The Penguin Book of Curious and Interesting Puzzles” by David Wells is an excellent collection of puzzles from various eras of history. The book follows a pattern of slow progress in the early centuries. Rapid expansion in the 19th century an explosion in the 20th century. The first third of the book covers puzzles from ancient civilizations to the 19th century. While the second half is devoted to puzzles from the 20th century.