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Okay, here's the deal. I have been teaching myself Physics and Math beyond my MS in QFT. I have been doing this for the last 20 or so years and I've gotten reasonably decent at it but String Theory is a bit beyond what I'm used to tackling. (I will pass over why I don't have a PhD. It's personal.) I have Becker, Becker, and Schwarz's "String Theory and M-Theory" text and have reluctantly decided that I need a source better suited to me. I was looking at it again over the last several months and concluded that the first three chapters (bosonic field theory) is a bit of a mess to learn from. There does not seem to be any real Physical reasoning behind the methodology, which spans from showing as basic as a sketch of how to contour integrate over a pole on a path to vague comments that make it sound like I already need to know everything about the Virasoro Algebra. If I already knew the theory and was working on a review it would be fine. But it's tough to learn from. The good news is that once we get to Chapter 4 and fermionic field ST the text settles down. But I need the results of the first three chapters to understand the methods.

So. What I know I need to review:

1) Basic group theory beyond the usual 4 space-time dimensions. Should I do SR in more than 4 as well?

2) I have a rough handle on conformal field theory but another review wouldn't hurt.

3) Same for SuperSymmetry.

4) I guess I need to go over more Lie Algebra theory. But once I get past Chapter 3 it seems to settle out and I only need the basics again? I couldn't see much mention beyond bosonic field theory.

5) I've got Intro Topology but I'm clearly going to need something deeper. I'm going to ask some Math friends about it but a Physics oriented text suggestion would be appreciated.

6) I need information on E8. Nothing in my reference library contains any mention of it. The Wikipedia article is nice but it doesn't show say anything about why we should use it. E8 is alien to me right now and I need another source.

I have been sporadically looking for another ST text for the past several years. I have decided that Kaku's text might be a good move. Any thoughts or other suggestions?

Thanks!

-Dan