This week I turned in the first draft of How Not To Be Wrong to my editor at the Penguin Press, so we remain on schedule for publication in May 2014. It’s a book about math for a general audience, which aims to make the case that it’s useful and interesting to enrich your intuition and common sense through formal or quantitative means. Characters include Francis Galton, David Hilbert, Abraham Wald, Blaise Pascal, Daniel Ellsberg, Voltaire, Antonin Scalia, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, the Marquis de Condorcet, G. H. Hardy, Derek Jeter, Edmond Halley, B.F. Skinner, Bertrand Russell, William Shakespeare, the Comte de Buffon, Theodore Roosevelt, David Foster Wallace, etc.
Writing a long book — the draft is 130,000 words — turns out to be something like writing a substantial math paper. You have some idea in advance of what the thing is going to look like, but you discover as you go that things you thought you could accomplish in a small amount of space are actually major projects. And then there are other things you think are going to be included which you decide you don’t really need (or calve off into separate future projects.)
In the end, the book I turned in is, I think, the same book I promised to write. The same but different.