Around the World in Eighty Games

From Tarot to Tic-Tac-Toe, Catan to Chutes and Ladders, a Mathematician Unlocks the Secrets of the World's Greatest Games


By Marcus Du Sautoy

Read by Mark Elstob

Formats and Prices




This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 7, 2023. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

“A delightful global tour of how humans think and play, led by one of our finest mathematical storytellers.” — Ben Orlin, author of Math Games with Bad Drawings

Where should you move first in Connect 4? What is the best property in Monopoly? And how can pi help you win rock paper scissors?

Spanning millennia, oceans and continents, countries and cultures, Around the World in Eighty Games gleefully explores how mathematics and games have always been deeply intertwined. Renowned mathematician Marcus du Sautoy investigates how games provided the first opportunities for deep mathematical insight into the world, how understanding math can help us play games better, and how both math and games are integral to human psychology and culture.

For as long as there have been people, there have been games, and for nearly as long, we have been exploring and discovering mathematics. A grand adventure, Around the World in Eighty Games teaches us not just how games are won, but how they, and their math, shape who we are.  


  • "Marcus du Sautoy’s brilliantly clear and captivating prose manages to bring to life the drama of so many different games. With the lightest of touches du Sautoy manages persuasively to show how games are both narratives that speak about us and structures whose ideas underlie everything in our known universe. And on top of it, the book serves as an absolutely indispensable compendium. Rainy weekends in Cornwall will now be welcomed."
    Stephen Fry, actor
  • "Maths is fun? Who knew? Certainly not me when I was growing up, but I think I’d have got on differently had I been handed a copy of Marcus du Sautoy’s book."
    Prospect Magazine
  • “An engrossing tour… delivered in refreshingly simple and consistently entertaining terms.”
    Kirkus (Starred)
  • “This meticulous and deeply researched survey will appeal to math-lovers and history buffs alike.”
    Publisher's Weekly
  • “The book encapsulates the very essence of human ingenuity and our intrinsic love for play and exploration. You do not need to be a seasoned player nor a skilled mathematician to relish in this enchanting read. However, this book may just encourage you to become the one or the other.”
    Reiner Knizia, award-winning game designer
  • “In this book, you will learn beautiful facts about games you have enjoyed all your life as well as games you have never played but can provide a lifetime of enjoyment. Written by mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, this book can be appreciated by game players of all mathematical backgrounds. Highly recommended!”
    Arthur T. Benjamin, professor of mathematics and author of The Magic of Math
  • “A delightful global tour of how humans think and play, led by one of our finest mathematical storytellers.”
    Ben Orlin, author of Math Games with Bad Drawings
  • "Whether your game is Go, Dungeons and Dragons, or Chocolate Chilli Roulette, you’ll find this book adorable. It’s lively, creative and humane – exactly as one would expect from Marcus du Sautoy"
    Tim Hartford, author of How to Make the World Add Up
  • "A delightful and addictive celebration of games. You’ll keep wanting one more go"
    Dara Ó Briain, comedian

On Sale
Nov 7, 2023
Hachette Audio

Marcus Du Sautoy

About the Author

Marcus du Sautoy is Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford. He is author of eight books and two plays. Du Sautoy is a Fellow of the Royal Society and recipient of many awards, including the Berwick Prize and an OBE. He lives in London.

Learn more about this author