Non-Fiction Reviews


(2001) Mark Ward, Macmillan, 14.99, hdbk, 324pp, ISBN 0-333-78201-1

First there was chaos, then complexity (and simplicity), and now universality. In my opinion the best books on the subject(s) are James Gleick's Chaos (1988) and Roger Lewin's Complexity (1993), and I have to say that this new book adds little to what we knew a decade ago. Which is not to say that this book is bad it's OK but it doesn't really have a heart of its own. Effectively 'universality' is just complexity renamed, parading the same old non-linearity and fractals in a quasi-mystical attempt to explain the "patterns that underlie all things". Its as patronising as Yoda, and delights in pointing out the bleeding obvious. I can't, in all good faith, recommend this book I'd rather point the reader in the direction of Lewin's tome but it'll do if you're curious and just can't find anything better. Disappointing.

Tony Chester

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