In Maker of Patterns, Freeman Dyson weaves a quilt sewn from the colorful memories of the early years of his life ... Maker of Patterns reveals a glimpse into the keenly curious mind and the passionate life of one of our greatest scientists and public figures.
The physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson is an interesting man, and, at the age of 94, he no doubt has a fascinating story to tell about his long and productive life. This book, however, does not contain that story—at least, not all of it and not in the form that many of us would have wished ... Overall, there is much in the letters collected here to enjoy; Mr. Dyson writes wonderfully well. But I am surely not alone in wishing that a man so brilliant, who has lived such an interesting life, had, at the end of his days, endeavored to write a proper autobiography. As Wittgenstein once observed, 'Raisins might be the best thing about a cake; but a bag of raisins is not better than a cake.'
As a reader, I was enthralled by this collection of Freeman Dyson’s letters. But as a biographer, I am most annoyed with him for having squirreled all these missives away ... Maker of Patterns is not autobiography. That would require something more than just the long letters reproduced here, occasionally annotated with italicized commentary. But these letters will delight any reader with their often contrarian observations. Dyson is an excellent witness, an acute observer of personality and human foibles. This volume should make any reader pine for a deep memoir.