A pleasure for science students and particularly of science humanely practiced.

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MAKER OF PATTERNS

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY THROUGH LETTERS

An epistolary memoir from a leading postwar physicist and mathematician, taking in the era from the 1940s to the end of the 1970s.

World War II was an excellent time to get an education, writes English-born physicist Dyson (Dreams of Earth and Sky, 2015, etc.), a longtime professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton: “The famous old professors were all there, but there were hardly any students.” Nonetheless, the war exerted some pull on his studies; in this collection of letters, he writes of operational research on detecting U-boats and such. Still, he heeded the advice of a senior professor who told him that “research never mixes well with learning,” and he set to puzzling out his own problems in quantum electrodynamics, particle theory, and other fields. A dozen years on, he recorded, happily, that as a result of one experiment, “we now have the job of changing our theories to agree with the new information, and this is likely to lead to substantial progress.” That passage is characteristic, for Dyson reveals himself to be wedded not to preconceived notions but to the primacy of proof, whether it be of that spinning particle or of the identity of a bomber on the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1969. “Undoubtedly,” he writes, “the radical students will be blamed for it.” The author’s account of events in the laboratory is punctuated by detours into popular culture (seeing, for instance, the film Treasure of the Sierra Madre on release in 1948 and finding in it “fairly obvious application to present-day international relations”) and contemporary intellectual history such as the debut work of sociologist Amitai Etzioni. Advocates of science will find in Dyson an admirable model. Why go to Mars when we could irrigate the Sahara, he asks. The science of space travel may be 10 times the benefit in the end, he writes, but “the main purpose is a general enlargement of human horizons.”

A pleasure for science students and particularly of science humanely practiced.

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-87140-386-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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