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Hardcover The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie Book

ISBN: 1841152498

ISBN13: 9781841152493

The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

In a book that is quirky, charming, informative, unique, two Cambridge physicists, using a model based on atomic motion and a branch of mathematics--knot theory--reveal the myriad ways to tie a tie. A... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Eight million ways to tie

I admit it was a little intimidating at first to see that not only was this book written by two Cambridge University physicists, but that they had devised their own special notation system for defining the physics of tying a tie. We've come a long way from 'the bunny runs around the tree and goes into the hole.'In fact, however, the guides are not only quite easy to follow (although there's still a certain amount of practice required to perfect the knots), but Fink and Mao are good about describing which knots work best with various types of ties, collars, and faces.Now I look at this book like I do those glossy cocktail books, full of enticing photos of multi-colored drinks. Those make me want to work my way down the bar, and this made me wish I worked someplace where I could wear a tie more often, just for the joy of experimenting with the knots. Well, almost, anyway. At any rate, any man who fancies himself a stylish dresser (or at least one who doesn't take his fashion cues from Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis) should keep this handy little guidebook next to his gold collar pins and framed photo of Fred Astaire.

Not Just Knots

When I started my current job, I checked to see if I would have to wear a tie. I do not like ties, but I did like _The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie_ (Broadway Books) by Thomas Fink and Yong Mao. There are indeed eighty-five ways to tie a tie, and they prove it, and they show them all. If you wear a tie, or know someone who does, and especially someone who does under protest, this is a useful and entertaining little book.But how does anyone prove that there are eighty-five ways to tie a tie? Well, the genial authors explain: "Tie knots, we realized, are equivalent to persistent random walks on a triangular lattice." If that explanation strikes you as less than useful, you can turn to the appendix at the back of the book, where you will find the random walk explanation proved by means of equations with symbols and superscripts which I cannot reproduce here. Comes the explanation: "Our day job as theoretical physicists might have had something to do with it." It does not take a mathematician to enjoy this book, however. What the authors have done is to examine all the variations of how to tie a standard tie. This means that one leaves the little end alone and makes the big end travel around to form the knot. Having crossed the little end, the big end can go to the left of it, or right, or to the center (where the neck of the wearer is). That is three possible moves, and within each of the three fields, the big end may either go in toward the wearer or out away from the wearer, for a total of six moves in all, not counting the final move, which is always to pull the big end down through the knot to its final resting place. Each knot can thus be specified with permutations of six simple moves. The simplest is the three-move variety called the "Oriental," the most complex is the nine-move memory-breaker known as the "Balthus." Windsor, half-Windsor, four-in-hand, and all the others are shown and instructions given. The authors have also noted the methods which might help make a more impressive knot in a lightweight tie, or in a tie that has grown limp with use, and various other suggestions. There is art here as well as science.This is a unique blend of mathematics, sartorial history, and fashion instruction, wittily presented and attractively illustrated. If we have to have ties, we might as well let them teach us something.

This Book Changed My Life ...

Well, maybe not my WHOLE life, but it has done wonders for that minute each weekday morning when I tie my tie. Before this book the most interesting part of this ritual was picking a colorful tie to match my clothes. Then came the boring task of getting one of the two knots I knew tied correctly. Now I can chose a knot that fits my collar line and the thickness of the tie.What this book doesn't cover is the art of the tie. Ties are the most artistic part of a man's wardrobe and yet this book ignores the design element of the fabric and focuses on the knot tied about the neck to hold the tie in place. There is an introductory section on the history of neck cloths that traces them back to an ancient Chinese emperor and discusses all the major precursors to the "long tie." Then the authors, who are both physicists, give a brief introduction to Topology and its branch, Knot Theory, and we are off to the fun. Using higher mathematics and a few basic assumptions about ties that they call "constraints" they come up with (you guessed it) 85 ways to tie a tie.Although I have read the whole book, I have not tied all the knots so I can't vouch for this next part. They added additional "constraints" for balance and symmetry, and narrowed these 85 down to 13 that meet their demanding criteria. Even if they are right and none of the others are superb, 13 is enough to make a boring routine into an exciting choice. Still there is the thrill of the undiscovered in the 72 they rejected. One of them may be the perfect knot for that beautiful silk Indian block print tie that hasn't looked good with either of my two knots, but that I love too much to throw away. I have finally learned the names of my two original knots and learned enough about tie knots to recognize some of the more famous knots I see on others.The book is illustrated with black-and-white photos of the famous and not-so-famous wearing various knots in their ties and has the most wonderful diagrams that make tie knots a joy to learn. A great book for any man who wears a tie on a regular basis.

Review from Physics World, January 2000

Publishers seem to have hit on a winning formula for non-fiction books in recent years. Take a seemingly esoteric subject, mix in lots of history, add plenty of anecdotes, keep it short, and print the book in a nice, compact form with expensive paper and lots of arty pictures. The best-selling Longitude by Dava Sobel led the way, now...repeated with this book on the physics of tie knots.It's a brilliant idea for a book. Thomas Fink and Yong Mao are condensed-matter theorists at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, and their work on tying knots made headlines around the world last year after it was published in Nature (1999, 398, 31). Using ideas from statistical mechanics, they worked out that there are 85 ways to tie a necktie. However, only 13 of these knots were deemed to be aesthetic on the grounds of "symmetry" and "balance". Three of these - the Windsor, the half-Windsor and the four-in-hand - were already widely known, whilst a fourth, dubbed the Nicky, was found to be a simpler version of the unaesthetic "Pratt", which was invented to much acclaim in 1989. This left nine brand new ways to tie a tie.This book provides a full description of how to tie each of the 85 ties, with pictures of the 13 aesthetic ones. There is a history of tie-wearing - the Duke of Windsor apparently did not invent the Windsor - and a brief discussion of the science of knots. There are also some pictures of various celebrities wearing ties - Ernest Rutherford, it seems, favoured the four-in-hand.So rather than publish what could have been a straightforward but possibly dull book about the science of knots, the authors have thought laterally to come up with an imaginative and clever book that must have had the publishers' marketing executives licking their lips. Other physicists who think they have a book inside them could do well to study this book's successful formula. Martin Durrani, for Physics World.

A delightful read

I've really enjoyed reading this book. I could have learned to tie ties as never before, but I have also enjoyed reading the history and anecdotes of the neckwear. The language of the book is concise and elegant. There are illustrations and pictures of tie tying and of historical fitures wearing their neckwear in style. It's a book to read for the science of tying a knot as well as the fun of it.
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