The Italians

A book review by Gian-Carlo Rota [1991], Editor of Advances in Mathematics (volume 88, issue 2, page 301):
Review of:  S. S. ABHYANKAR:  Algebraic Geometry for Scientists and Engineers. American Mathematics Society, 1990, 295 pp.

Every field has its taboos. In algebraic geometry, the taboos are (a) giving an exposition that can be followed by anyone but one’s two or three closest friends, (b) claiming that a result has any applications whatsoever, (c) mentioning the word “combinatorial,” (d) claiming that any mathematics existed before Grothendieck (only some vague handwaving references to “the Italians” are occasionally allowed, provided they are not supported by bibliographical data). Abhyankar has violated all these taboos. He’d better get himself some bodyguards.”