Pushing Limits

Most of us lead conventional lives. This memoir shows that it’s possible to squeeze more “life” out of life than most of us imagine.



Pushing Limits: Memoir of a Maverick from Soldier to Scholar recounts the unique odyssey of a research mathematician who overcame military hurdles at West Point, Army Ranger School and the Vietnam War, and survived many civilian escapades—hitchhiking in Idi Amin’s Uganda, fending off sharks in Bahamian reefs, and exploring deep behind the Iron Curtain in a Volkswagen camper.

From ultra-conservative West Point in the 1960s to ultra-radical Berkeley in the ’70s, then to genteel Georgia Tech in the ’80s, this is the tale of an academic career as noteworthy for its offbeat adventures as for its teaching and research accomplishments. It brings to life the struggles and risks underlying mathematical research, the unparalleled thrill of making scientific breakthroughs, and the joy of sharing those discoveries around the world.

Hill’s book is packed with energy, humor, and suspense, both physical and intellectual. Anyone who is curious about how a maverick mathematician thinks, who wants to relive the zanier side of the ’60s and ’70s, who wants an armchair journey into the third world, or who seeks an unconventional view of some of society’s iconic institutions, will be drawn to this book.

Full disclosure. Ted Hill is a friend of the publisher’s and a classmate of her husband’s at West Point.

… captivating memoir reveals an intriguing character who is part Renaissance Man, part Huckleberry Finn. Fast-paced and often hilarious … provides some penetrating and impious insights into some of our more revered institutions.

— Rick Atkinson, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, author of The Long Gray Line

Ted Hill is unique in having both a very exciting internal mathematical life … and an action-filled, adventurous, external life. … his natural gift, very rare for mathematicians, of story-telling, [makes this] a page-turner.

— Doron Zeilberger, Rutgers University, winner of MAA Ford Prize, AMS Steele Prize, and ICA Euler Medal

Thoughtful, funny, evocative, Ted Hill takes us through a life well-lived … an intensely personal story that will appeal to every profession—and to every generation!

— General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Commander

I loved the book. Extraordinary job of making scenes come alive…with great energy and really good dialog.

— David Ignatius, Columnist and Associate Editor at The Washington Post, author of Body of Lies

Most people think that mathematics has nothing to do with daily life. These folks need to spend a few hours with Ted. He sees life through a mathematical lens and brings excitement and adventure to everything he comes in contact with.

— Martin Jones, Professor of Mathematics, College of Charleston

Ted Hill’s incredible life story shows that a mathematical life can be heroic.

— Reuben Hersh, coauthor of The Mathematical Experience, winner of a National Book Award in Science

The first adjectives…when thinking about a mathematician…are likely to [be] words such as: eccentric, reclusive, nerd. Ted Hill amply demonstrates that, at least in his case, nothing could be further from the truth, as he offers us a glimpse of the fascinating world of an accomplished mathematician.

— Mario Livio, author of The Golden Ratio and Why?

Ted Hill’s fascinating and raucous memoir…is proof that life in the exotic world of theoretical mathematics doesn’t preclude and in fact benefits from passionate engagement with the real world.

— Jack Miller, Physicist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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