Struck by Lightning Secondary Title

In 701 B.C. the Assyrian empire was in its ascendancy. It had already vanquished the kingdom of Israel to the north including the capital at Samaria. It then prepared an assault on Judah and its capital at Jerusalem.

But in one of those significant events that changes the course of world history, Assyria was repelled. Jerusalem was saved until 586 B.C. when the Babylonians sacked the city, forcing its leadership class into exile.

Henry Aubin, in a major feat of scholarship, determines that Jerusalem was aided by a Kushite army from Africa which had marched northeast from the Nile valley. While the Bible attributes the Assyrian retreat to an angel and secular commentators cite pestilence, Aubin, in a meticulously documented work, demonstrates that an alliance with the African nation of Kush bolstered Jerusalem’s defences.

Kush, also known as Nubia, was located in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan. A monarchy that existed for more than 1000 years, from 900 B.C. to A.D. 350, Kushites held sway over Egypt from 712 B.C. to about 660 B.C. Of Egypt’s 31 dynasties, this, the 25th Dynasty, is the only one that all scholars agree, was black.

The commander of the Kushite expeditionary force was Taharqa (or as the Bible calls him Tirhakah). This Kushite prince, who had his own interests in halting Assyrian expansion, likely caught the aggressors by surprise as they prepared their siege of Jerusalem.

Aubin offers a thrilling military history and a stirring political analysis of the ancient world. He also sees the event as influential over the centuries.

The Kushite rescue of the Hebrew kingdom of Judah enabled the fragile, war-ravaged state to endure, to nurse itself back to economic and demographic health, and allowed the Hebrew religion, Yahwism, to evolve within the next several centuries into Judaism. Thus emerged the monotheistic trunk supporting Christianity and Islam.

Jeffrey Rosenthal’sdelightful book will enhance your feelings for probability and its odd relevance to so many aspects of life. If you read it you will almost certainly not be struck by lightning.”
John Allen Paulos
Author of Innumeracy

HarperCollins Canada/World Rights Fall 2005 
Joseph Henry/National Academies Press U.S. 2006 
Australia Broadcasting Corp.
Australia 2006 
Longanesi & C. Societa Editrice AsA Italy 2006 
BuPyo Korea
DMFA Slovenia
Eichborn German
Granta UK
Hayakawa Publishing Inc.
Japan 2006

Struck by Lightning

The Curious World of Probabilities

We are fascinated and frightened by randomness. From gambling casinos to video games, random events are not just surprising but thrilling and liberating. At other times, there is the dark side of random strikes such as cancer, accidents, or terrorist plots.

Jeffrey Rosenthal, a mathematician whose specialty is probability theory, is a warm and enlightening guide who takes us deeper into the questions of certainty and uncertainty.

Yet, he never loses touch with the everyday effects of probability on our lives. Should we take an airplane even though it might crash? Should we buy a lottery ticket, though we might not win? Should we buy insurance, though we might never collect? “Even Albert Einstein railed against the randomness of quantum mechanics,” says Rosenthal, “insisting that God does not play dice.”

Along the way, we get details of the history of mathematical and logical thought.  We learn the truth about casinos; we are coached on reducing uncertainty by averaging; we discover how to use randomness to our advantage to outwit opponents; and we see how to link probability to our personal values to help us makes decisions.

Jeffrey S. Rosenthal received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University when he was only 24. By the age of 29, he had a tenured post at the University of Toronto in the Department of Statistics. He has published two textbooks on probability theory and more than 50 research papers, many related to his area of expertise: Markov chain Monte Carlo randomized computer algorithms.

Born in 1967 into a family of mathematicians, his wide interest span film, literature, and music. He is also an occasional comedy performer and an amateur computer game programmer.