Which started out interesting, then got complex but you hoped would all come together at the end only to be totally disappointed when it got crazier and super complex at the end? Yeah that's this book. Way too much complex physics in the last 3rd of this book.
The author mixes the physics with a discussion of the scientists involved and their personalities. I found the physics interesting but baffling.
This is extremely thought-provoking stuff and has further stimulated my own interest in black hole physics, quantum mechanics, and string theory. I found it more helpful to read through the text version as well as listen to the audiobook twice now. Narration in the audio version is excellent.
That said, I have some specific problems with this book.
First, at times the author wanted to make sure that he spoke to an audience that is not at all familiar with science, but at times he assumed the reader knew things that they very likely were completely unfamiliar. E.g., he took the time to explain scientific notation, even if he later failed to consistently use it. Sometimes he was folksy, saying things like "this ain't that." At other times, however, he would reference neutrinos, quarks, etc. . . . with no mention of what those were or how they related (or did not relate) to the subject matter.
Second, I found the author's tone to be rather self-indulgent. I guess I should have been tipped off by the title - the author's motivation for writing the book was that he thinks he is smarter than Stephen Hawking. And I was troubled that, after a long discussion of quantum mechanics, he suggested that his reader was not going to understand it anyway. (Then why bother to have attempted it, or not to have tried harder to make it clear?) Sadly, the writing is such that even a usually great narrator like Ray Porter read the book with a condescending air.
Third, I find that some anecdotes about scientists and their lives are wonderful,. For example, Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" was wondeful in explaining the science and describing the scientists behind the science. However, the author's little stories about one-upping Richard Feynman at a deli, missing part of a lecture because he got caught up in listening to students talking in the cafeteria (after running 15 miles, wanting chicken soup that was hot but not very good, etc.) were tiresome.
Great performance, I love listening to books by this narrator.
The book is very thought provoking and provides some very interesting concepts but even to the authors own admission, much of this is untestable and approaches the realm of philosophy
Software engineer and avid, lifetime student. I like deep, thoughtful non-fiction, and fiction that compliments and enriches it.
I can't recommend this book enough for anyone even remotely interested in science. Susskind covers both in-depth hard science as well as all the simpler layers you need to understand. However I've re-read it 5 times now - in each reading, I get more out of it.
The narrator, Ray Panek, is simply the best audio book reader there out there.
I have to listen again to absorb it all, maybe twice more, which might take me years to get around to. I was very happy with this audio book. It could be too long and too obscure for me to personally recommend to most of my friends.