Feferman, Anita Burdman 1927-

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Feferman, Anita Burdman 1927-


Born July 27, 1927; married Solomon Feferman.


Scholar and writer.


Politics, Logic, and Love: The Life of Jean Van Heijenoort (biography), Jones & Bartlett (Boston, MA), 1993, published as From Trotsky to Gödel: The Life of Jean Van Heijenoort, AK Peters, Ltd. (Wellesley, MA), 2000.

(With husband, Solomon Feferman) Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic (biography), Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2004.


Anita Burdman Feferman is an independent scholar and writer. She is the author of Politics, Logic, and Love: The Life of Jean Van Heijenoort (published in paperback as From Trotsky to Gödel: The Life of Jean Van Heijenoort) and Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic, which she wrote with her husband, Solomon Feferman.

Considered by many as one of the greatest logicians of the twentieth century, Alfred Tarski was born in 1901 in Warsaw, Poland, into a middle-class Jewish family. Tarski traveled to the United States in August 1939 to pursue a career in academics, leaving behind his wife, son, and daughter. He also left behind his last name (which was originally Teitelbaum) and his Jewish identity (Tarski converted to Catholicism). Upon arriving in America, he struggled to find work until finally ending up at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1942, where he taught for the duration of his career. Tarski was instrumental in turning Berkeley into one of the premiere universities for the study of logic. After WWII, Tarski's wife and children were able to join him in California. Although considered by many to be a charismatic teacher, he was known for being notoriously demanding (bordering on abusive), especially with his graduate students. He was also known for his indiscreet extramarital involvements with many of his female students, which is well documented in the Fefermans' biography.

Many critics praised the Fefermans' work on Tarski's biography. According to Martin Davis in his review of the book for the American Scientist, "his was a fascinating life, and the new biography Alfred Tarski … covers it all. The authors are exceptionally well qualified to tell his story: Solomon Feferman, who was one of Tarski's doctoral students in the 1950s and is now on the faculty at Stanford … and independent scholar and writer Anita Burdman Feferman … also knew Tarski well. The Fefermans … were personally acquainted with many of the people they write about here, and they have obtained some remarkably intimate information. The book is beautifully written and a pleasure to read on a number of levels." The Fefermans' "look into the life and work of Alfred Tarski and his impact, both scientifically and emotionally on the people who knew him, is well written, well rounded and well done. It is a valuable contribution to the growing genre of mathematical biographies of substance," observed Amy Shell-Gellasch in her review of the book on the Mathematical Association of America Web site. A contributor who reviewed the book on the Brown University Web site, noted the fact that while reading the book "you sense the authors wrote sections independently; unfortunately their accomplished editor didn't pull out the various bits of repetition and redundancy." However, among other praise, the reviewer also felt that "they do an excellent job of painting each milieu that Tarski found himself in, performing excellent historical scholarship to unearth his Polish days and then painting a superb portrait of the transformation of Berkeley." "Reading Tarski's journals and publications, mining many archives, interviewing dozens and dozens of people, and traveling to Poland to visit original sites, the Fefermans have put together a story that is detailed and personal. They have painted a splendid portrait, Cromwellian warts and all, of an extraordinary individual," commended Philip J. Davis in his review of the book on the Society for Industrial & Applied Mathematics Web site.



American Mathematical Monthly, April, 2006, Carol Wood, review of Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic, p. 377.

American Scientist, March 1, 2005, Martin Davis, "The Man Who Defined Truth," p. 175.

Biography, fall, 2005, Martin Davis, review of Alfred Tarski.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May, 2005, J. Mayer, review of Alfred Tarski, p. 1610.

Internet Bookwatch, September, 2007, review of From Trotsky to Gödel: The Life of Jean Van Heijenoort.

Isis, June, 2006, Thomas Oberdan, review of Alfred Tarski, p. 362.

Latin American Research Review, summer, 1997, Mauricio Tenorio Trillo, review of Politics, Logic, and Love: The Life of Jean Van Heijenoort.

Mathematical Intelligencer, spring, 2003, John W. Dawson, review of From Trotsky to Gödel.

New Yorker, December 20, 1993, George Steiner, review of Politics, Logic, and Love, p. 139.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 1993, review of Politics, Logic, and Love, p. 2; August, 2001, review of From Trotsky to Gödel, p. 4; May, 2005, review of Alfred Tarski, p. 289.

SciTech Book News, June, 2005, review of Alfred Tarski, p. 15.

Times Higher Education Supplement, February 25, 2005, "A Bulldozer Who Helped Dig Out Truth," p. 26.


Brown University Web site,http://www.cs.brown.edu/ (February 14, 2008), review of Alfred Tarski.

Mathematical Association of America,http://www.maa.org/ (July 5, 2005), Amy Shell-Gellasch, review of Alfred Tarski.

Society for Industrial & Applied Mathematics,http://www.siam.org/ (March 1, 2005), Philip J. Davis, review of Alfred Tarski.