Books: Cinquecento Crapshooter

CARDANO: THE GAMBLING SCHOLAR, With a translation of Cardano's Book on Games of Chance (249 pp.)—Oysteln Ore—Princeton University ($4).

"Gambling." wrote Gerolamo Cardano, "ought to be discussed by a medical doctor like one of the incurable diseases." Cardano himself was just the man to do the job. One of the leading Italian physicians of the 16th century, he was an unsurpassed mathematician, and he suffered from an acute case of the disease.

Every day for 25 years Cardano played cards or rolled dice. This did not prevent him from writing 412 different works on a dozen sciences and pseudosciences, and from speculating on...

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