John Baez is one of the best expositors I can think of (and, of course, a leading mathematical physicist).
One thing that I also found out is that he is a very patient and attentive person. I've been drawing figures for his quantization and cohomology course and from this process I have learned a lot from him.
Yes, I also think this particular TWF unusual. A lot has been said and written about these books for a while now and I believe it is the first time he openly writes something about them.
I think all that he wrote is reasonable, mainly:
- "(...) casual observers must have gotten the impression that physics was always on the brink of a Theory of Everything... but mysteriously never reaching it. These books correct that impression."
- "It's true there's no obviously better theory than string theory. Loop quantum gravity, in particular, has problems that are just as serious as string theory. But, the "only game in town" argument is still flawed."
- "If everyone pursues the same approach, we'll all succeed or fail together - and chances are we'll fail. The reason for backing some risk takers is that it "diversifies our portfolio". It reduces overall risk by increasing the chance that someone will succeed."
These are the main messages of the books by Smolin and, as far as I can tell, by Woit (I didn't read the latter). All this has been said and debated endlessly elsewhere, but it's nice to read them from John Baez, who has this great capacity of explaining things so that anyone can understand.