Daneet Steffens
February 16, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

Circles

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
James Burke
genre
Essays, Science and Technology

We gave it a B+

How are the Brothers Grimm and talking pictures connected? And what in blue blazes did Frankenstein author Mary Shelley have to do with the invention of raincoats? Burke, the bespectacled Brit who does his six-degrees-of-serendipitous-separation thing both in text and on TV (The Day the Universe Changed, Connections), has the answers, finding inspiration for his intricate research odysseys anywhere — a sip of champagne, a glimpse of the Thames, even an air conditioner. Circles, a collection of Burke’s Scientific American columns, draws on science, history, and Disney to shed light in unexpected corners; it’s fine reading, but to appreciate his affable manner and proficiency with bad puns more fully, try catching him on the tube sometime. B+

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