Reviewed by Graham Wheeler
First published in 2003, Stephen Senn's 'Dicing with Death' received exceptional praise for being a unique addition to 'pop-science' literature. Books on statistics - popular books, that is - are somewhat of a rarity and preceding Senn's book, only a handful of titles managed to permeate outside of academic circles and begin to find their way to the bookshelves of the layman. However, to regard 'Dicing with Death' as purely a 'pop-science' book is a very naïve misclassification.
'Dicing with Death' is a chronicle of statistics through the ages; it is the tale of "Galton meets Pearson meets Fisher", how mathematics lured medical hopefuls away from their plans, how Cambridge and London acted as the bastions of statistics over the last 200 years. The stories of the greats such as the Bernoulli family, Bayes, Laplace, Poisson, Greenwood, Ross, Bradford Hill, Doll, Galton, Kermack, Pearson (both Karl and Egon), Fisher and Cox - to name a few - are retold and connected to paint a wonderful picture of how statistics, mathematics, epidemiology and medicine have interacted and developed over time.