From West Point to Berkeley and Beyond
Pushing Limits

This memoir recounts my unique odyssey through military hurdles at West Point, U. S. Army Ranger training, and the Vietnam War, and then many civilian escapades—hitchhiking in third-world hotspots, fending off sharks in Bahamian reefs, camping deep behind the forbidding Iron Curtain, and surviving the cutthroat mathematics PhD program at Berkeley.

Packed with energy, humor, and suspense, both physical and intellectual, it also 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.

It is published jointly by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the American Mathematical Society (AMS) (April 2017).

For more information, click here. For Amazon link, click here. (To request military discount, please send email to: losososresearch AT gmail.com).

Interviews and Press Kit


MAA Reviews: "Picture Indiana Jones as a mathematician. The life described in this memoir is a good deal more complicated and nuanced than the movie hero's, but its author is no less a stereotype-breaker...This is a remarkable memoir, one unlikely to find its match in the diversity of experiences it describes. Hill is a master storyteller. He notes in the preface that his book was four decades in the making, and it's clear that he was collecting stories the whole time."

Zentralblatt: "[T]his reviewer has no doubt that in a hundred years or so this autobiography will be read as an attractive, vivid and generally reliable description of political and academic, in particular, mathematical life in the United States of America in the second half of the 20th century."

Vietnam Veterans of America Magazine: "This insightful and entertaining book's first half covers Hill's military career... [T]he second half tells just about everything you would want to know about the study of mathematics at the highest levels... His determination to pursue problems to their conclusion won my admiration."

Mathematical Reviews: "This book is a celebration of an unusual odyssey towards a mathematical career and a creative longevity therein...Hill is a master story-teller...The reader will find highs and lows of escapades herein, but overall, a love for mathematics."

Choice Reviews: "The author's goal is to dispel the notion that mathematicians are stodgy and lead boring, reclusive lives - he succeeds admirably!"

The Mathematical Gazette (Cambridge University): "...he has always had a maverick side...[with] little need for possessions, sequentially renovating a series of unsaleable and apparently uninhabitable homes...Like Feynman, he has a range of skills...[and] insists on the need for a real understanding of the fundamental ideas of a problem...There are many good stories in the book".

NRC Handelsblad: " In Pushing Limits doet Hill geen poging die wiskunde uit te leggen; hij wil de niet-wiskundige lezer geen onverteerbare kost voorzetten. Hills avonturen staan voorop en die zijn het lezen waard. [In Pushing Limits Hill does not attempt to explain mathematics; he does not want to put the non-mathematical reader at an indigestible cost. Hills adventures are paramount and they are worth reading.]"

California Magazine: " Ted Hill, Ph.D. '77, shares his unconventional journey to becoming an esteemed mathematician in his memoir Pushing Limits: From West Point to Berkeley & Beyond. Hill shares riveting tales from his time in the military, the Vietnam War, Berkeley in the '70s, six Communist countries during the Cold War, and Georgia Tech in the '80s - all retold alongside his academic success and mathematical breakthroughs."


Rick Atkinson, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, author of The Long Gray Line:
"...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."

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

General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Commander:
"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!"

Alex Bellos, author of Here's Looking at Euclid and The Grapes of Math:
"Ted Hill is an original. Mathematician. Adventurer. Activist. His life has seen both his mind and body tested to extremes...insightful, entertaining and - in a very good way - unlike any other book you will ever read by a mathematician."

Michael Monticino, Professor of Mathematics and Special Assistant to the President, U. North Texas:
"Ted Hill is the Indiana Jones of mathematics. A West Point graduate, [he] served in Vietnam, swam with sharks in the Caribbean, and has resolutely defied unreasoned authority. With this same love of adventure, he has confronted the sublime challenges of mathematics. Whether it's discovering intellectual treasures or careening down jungle trails, this real life Dr. Jones has done it all."

David Ignatius, Columnist and Associate Editor at The Washington Post, author of Body of Lies:
"I loved the book. Extraordinary job of making scenes come alive...with great energy and really good dialog."

Reuben Hersh, coauthor of The Mathematical Experience, winner of a National Book Award in Science:
"Ted Hill's incredible life story shows that a mathematical life can be heroic."

John Allen Paulos, Professor of Mathematics at Temple University, author of Innumeracy and A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper:
"Straddling the military and the mathematical worlds, Ted Hill's life is full of contradictions, daring exploits and accomplishments, and outright fun and adventure. A fascinating read..."

Mircea Pitici, Cornell University, Editor of Best Writing on Mathematics:
"This [memoir]...will thrill and perplex the reader, by the seamless mixture of mind-adventure and body adventure, and for the unconventional academic path traveled by its author. Hill perpetually runs into trouble with authorities...[but] befriends mathematicians all over the world... With verve and nerve, Hill writes the story of...a life that touches on the highly exceptional, rich in friendship, thought, and humane warmth."

David Gilat, Professor Emeritus, School of Mathematical Sciences, Tel Aviv University:
"A fascinating journey from pure adventurism...through West Point and the Vietnam War to the highest intellectual accomplishments. At the center is a beautiful portrayal of the tedious, but highly rewarding road from graduate school to becoming a substantial research mathematician. A joy to read."

Christian Houdré, Professor of Mathematics, Georgia Institute of Technology:
"It is well known that math is boring and that mathematicians are dull individuals lacking both social skills and common sense. Wait a minute.Ted Hill might change your mind. His almost mathemagical life experiences are like a platter of petit fours: sample one and you'd want a second, then a third and soon you're addicted."

Martin Jones, Professor of Mathematics, College of Charleston:
"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."

Mario Livio, author of The Golden Ratio and Why?:
"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."

Jack Miller, Physicist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:
"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."

Walter Stromquist, past Editor of Mathematics Magazine:
"Ted Hill has led an exciting life, and his vivid stories shed light on some remarkable times and places. Mathematicians will especially appreciate his chapters on graduate school and his early professional life; he brings our shared experiences to life in a way that only an outstanding writer can do."

Bill Sudderth, Professor Emeritus of Statistics, U. of Minnesota:
"Ted Hill paints vivid pictures of his life in the military and academia. From West Point and Vietnam to Berkeley and Georgia Tech, his trials and hair-raising adventures are highly entertaining and informative."

Stan Wagon, Macalester College, winner of MAA Ford Prize, author of The Banach-Tarski Paradox:
"Ted Hill took a very unusual route to...mathematics: a military start and a stint in Vietnam, followed by a first-rate degree at one of the top programs in the world (Berkeley) and a highly successful career. This path, in addition to providing him with many adventures, has allowed him to look at thing(s) a little differently than most mathematicians..."