Not for the faint of mathematical heart, but a dramatically presented and polished treasure of theories.




A pilgrimage through the uncanny world of symmetry.

Du Sautoy (Mathematics/Oxford; The Music of the Primes: Searching to Solve the Greatest Mystery in Mathematics, 2003, etc.) has two concerns. The first is defining the role of symmetry as a key to understanding many of nature’s intimate relationships: how it reveals genetic superiority through the conspicuous display of energy required to produce such beauty; how it signals to creatures (in “a very basic, almost primeval form of communication”) to go about the important business of reproduction. Du Sautoy’s second concern regards the ways in which symmetry achieves economy, efficiency and stability in nature, as in the comb of a honeybee hive or in spheres like bubbles and raindrops, which place a premium on surface area relative to a given volume. The author’s prose is equally economical and elegant, but when he gets going on the math behind the symmetry he enters a realm dense with equations and jargon, likely to give the math-challenged a case of the fantods: “I dive into an explanation of how I think you could use Galois’s groups PSL(2, p) built from permuting lines, mixed with zeta functions to try to prove that there are infinitely many Mersenne primes…” Still, du Sautoy doesn’t leave readers dangling; he takes pains to explain the secret language of math, even if it requires considerable backing-and-filling to keep pace with him. Impressively, he conveys the thrill of grasping the mathematics that lurk in the tile work of the Alhambra, or in palindromes, or in French mathematician Évariste Galois’s discovery of the interactions between the symmetries in a group.

Not for the faint of mathematical heart, but a dramatically presented and polished treasure of theories.

Pub Date: March 11, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-078940-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2007

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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