Finding Moonshine: A Mathematician’s Journey Through Symmetry


Fourth Estate, 2008

An account for the general public of the story of symmetry combined with a personal account of what it means to be a practicing mathematician. Translated into 10 languages and long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2008 for non-fiction. Published in the USA by Harper Collins under the title Symmetry.

Sunday Times Lisa Jardine reviewed the book for the Sunday Times and described it as “mesmerising”.

The Guardian Tim Radford thought “Finding Moonshine adds up to a wonderful read. This is a marvellous account of a 4,000-year obsession with symmetry and the secret language of nature.”

Daily Telegraph The flip, twirl and shuffle of symmetry. Ed Lake finds it “hard to resist Moonshine’s cocktail of anecdote, swashbuckling potted history and haphazard self-revelation.”

Sunday Telegraph The beauty of Patterns. “Marcus du Sautoy knows how to tell a story and, even more important, how to make difficult ideas palatable and even entertaining” write Graham Farmelo.

The Economist Mirror Games. “It makes for a fascinating and absorbing read.”

Times Higher Education Chosen as Book of the Week. Reviewed by Timothy Gowers, Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. “he has pulled off that rare feat of writing in a way that can entertain and inform two different audiences – expert and non-expert – at the same time…What makes the organisation of the book so successful is that it allows du Sautoy to develop one part of his story and then leave you in suspense while he moves on to another. This is of course a well-known literary device, and du Sautoy is very good at using it: he knows just how much information to reveal to keep you interested. The result is a gripping book with a strongly novelistic flavour.”

Independent A monster hit for the maths world. Reviewed by Apostolos Doxiadis, author of Uncle Petros and the Goldbach Conjecture. “At the book’s core is the mathematical story, which du Sautoy tells with the narrative flair and storyteller’s sense of detail, development and suspense also exhibited in his first book, The Music of the Primes. … it gives an inspiring testimony of what it is like to be a research mathematician.”

Sunday Independent Symmetry is an asset prized by nature and man alike. Just ask a mathematician. Reviewed by Simon Ings. “Finding Moonshine is a superlative mathematical entertainment; not pretty to the purist eye, but oh, so effective.”

Financial Times The nature of symmetry. “Even if you understand little of the mathematics involved, it’s a fascinating tale ” writes Alan Cane.

Nature Multi-dimensional lives. Mark Ronan: “a delightful account”.