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Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman | [James Gleick]

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman

From the author of the national best seller Chaos comes an outstanding biography of one of the most dazzling and flamboyant scientists of the 20th century that "not only paints a highly attractive portrait of Feynman but also . . . makes for a stimulating adventure in the annals of science." (The New York Times).
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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the national best seller Chaos comes an outstanding biography of one of the most dazzling and flamboyant scientists of the 20th century that "not only paints a highly attractive portrait of Feynman but also . . . makes for a stimulating adventure in the annals of science." (The New York Times).

©1993 James Gleick (P)2011 Random House

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (160 )
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4.0 (119 )
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Performance
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  •  
    david chesapeake, VA, United States 09-08-12
    david chesapeake, VA, United States 09-08-12 Member Since 2009

    A fellow listener inclined to share my opinion on these productions. Maybe even inspire someone toward a powerful, or educational audiobook!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "My Hero!"

    I am grateful that James did this, for I learned many new things. I have read many other books about Feynman, and have had that 'I'll eat it cause it's on the plate' feeling about the last few. I feel that way about this too, cause of all the revisited material, but Gleick fills in so many gaps that it is still very refreshing. Mind you all: If you are new to Feynman, this would be one of the most comprehensive books ever written on him! It covers all the old and much new material. This is for everyone!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc Wilhelm New England 02-08-12
    Marc Wilhelm New England 02-08-12 Member Since 2011

    Professional Game Designer | Professor | Creative | I alternate between reading for knowledge and pleasure.

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    "Ok, that's the last straw...Dess Carts?"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes, in print or by a different narrator.


    What other book might you compare Genius to and why?

    This is a fantastic biography of a great scientist and human, ruined by bad narration.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator reads everything like a Sunday-school teacher reading out of a children's bible. He mispronounces scientific words and historical figures incessantly! This narration is a bad joke.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    In a heartbeat.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm sure the narrator is a nice guy, but this book did not suit him. The audio director also needs to wake up!

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 04-07-13
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 04-07-13 Member Since 2008

    College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

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    "Wonderful Biography!"

    Like Bird & Sherwin's biography of Oppenheimer, Farmelo's account of Dirac, and Issacson's book on Einstein, Gleick's tome on Feynman brings to life the man whom one of his colleagues called "50% genius, 50% buffoon"--and then amended his comment to "100% genius, 100% buffoon!" Lots of personal accounts of the wacky, intense genius that Feynman was, with wonderful details of his work and how he helped to recreate science in the nearly mystical world of quantum mechanics.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Hixson, TN, United States 10-14-11
    Richard Hixson, TN, United States 10-14-11
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    "Mispronounced names!"

    One my pet peeves about some audio books is a narrator who doesn't bother to learn the pronunciation of names, but just wings it. I am not too far in, but already he calls Murray Gell-Mann "Jel Man" as though he were describing some man made of jelly. Gell is properly pronounced as the 'gel' in the first syllable of gelding, and the vowel in Mann is of the 'ah" variety. This sort of thing REALLY annoys me even although the book itself is quite good.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J B Tipton Minneapolis, MN USA 02-14-11
    J B Tipton Minneapolis, MN USA 02-14-11 Member Since 2007
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    "Feynman Life and Science"

    This book is half biography and half science. Feynman was one of a kind and had a remarkable career. You can???t help thinking that this is how brains are supposed to work. The science exposition is clear and easy to follow. The narrator is a perfect match to the material.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie KALAMAZOO, MI, United States 02-10-11
    Laurie KALAMAZOO, MI, United States 02-10-11 Member Since 2007

    lafftur

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    "So glad to have this in audio..."

    I've adored this book since it was first published. I am so happy to have it on audio now. The narration is pretty flat, and I'm not entirely sure about some of the pronunciations (Pretty sure I.I. Rabi is "Rah-bee" not "Rab-eye") but glad to have it nonetheless. Eagerly awaiting Gleick's newest!

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Cincinnati, OH, USA 03-06-13
    Daniel Cincinnati, OH, USA 03-06-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Great Book, Bad Performance and Editing"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Genius to be better than the print version?

    No


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Dick Estell?

    I was embarrassed for Dick Estell and any Editors attached to this recording. Do some research; Show some respect both to the author and those great minds represented in this book.


    Any additional comments?

    I hope in the future Audible will re-record this Audiobook.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karl Lunenburg, MA, United States 04-22-11
    Karl Lunenburg, MA, United States 04-22-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Good General Biography, Reader a Bit Lacking"

    This is a good general-purpose biography of the physicist Richard Feynman. Given that it's written for the average reader, it doesn't go into great depth about the Feynman's work. It does, however, give a good feel for Physics during the time that Feynman was beginning his career, notably during the period when he was working at Los Alamos. The beginning skips around quite a bit providing some background, so be patient, it does get around to Feynman's life. The only issue is with the reader. He manages to mis-pronounce a fair number of names in the book and someone should have taken the time to edit the performance so as to catch the mispronounciations in the mathematics and physics terms (e.g., "matrices" is *not* pronounced "matresses".)

    11 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Pickering, Ontario, Canada 04-09-12
    Jeff Pickering, Ontario, Canada 04-09-12 Member Since 2007

    50yrs old / audible member for 5 yrs library. 75% nonfiction, 15% classics and 10% fiction. History/Science/biography/Eng.18th cent fiction

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A GREAT READ OF A GREAT MAN"

    This is the best bio on RICHARD FEYNMAN by far, and it comes as no surprise that the author is JAMES GLEICK. Gleick is one of the greatest living science writers. His subject this time is the great RICHARD FEYNMAN. A scientist who is fascinating on all fronts- personal and professional.
    In other writers hands this cornucopia of great material is wasted. Gleick is the right man for the job and he doesn't disappoint. He choreographs a memorable dance intertwining the personal and professional sides of this enigmatic,extroverted, exuberant, genius. whose life is a favorite study of scientific students and others like myself who have been lucky enough to discover the entrancing story of his remarkable life and work..
    This is a highly readable and thoroughly enjoyable biography that anyone can benefit greatly from reading. As expected Gleick does a masterful job of disseminating all of Feynman's remarkable scientific discovery's and inventions in a manner anyone can not just come to understand- but appreciate as well . Thats a tall order that Gleick is renown for pulling off (see my review on his book on chaos theory) As far as I can recall, the narration is also quite good for both books.
    Once youve read genius- or even before you read it, check out all the wonderful interviews with Feynmans on u tube. This is a great book about a great man. Highly recommended.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Juha Hyvinkaa, Finland 07-21-14
    Juha Hyvinkaa, Finland 07-21-14 Member Since 2009

    I am a math teacher in a vocational school. I want to become a physics teacher also. Self development, teaching and upbringing intrest me.

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    "Insight into a genius"
    What made the experience of listening to Genius the most enjoyable?

    This book is quite extensive. What makes one a genius is a riddle and this book nicely pondered questions around it


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Learning that Dick did physics just for the excitement of finding out things. Even though for the advancement of physics it could have been more benefitual if he had read more about other peoples research. But then on the other hand it was important that he had his own way of thinking and calculating


    Any additional comments?

    So far most informative book about Feynman that I have read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 15 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Sara
    Llanwrtyd wells, United Kingdom
    3/17/11
    Overall
    "A Biography/Science masterpiece"

    I expected this book to concentrate more on the life of RPF than it did but I am grateful to be disappointed - the clues were in the title, after all! This book balances the life of Feynman with the scientific environment of the time and the progress of Feynman and his peers in developing their understanding of the quantum world. It is fantastic. The author conveys the feeling that Feynman was around at a time when scientific endeavour and discover was at its peak - an exciting time of debate and competition towards a deeper understanding of a science in its (comparative) infancy.

    I have read the autobiographical books of RPF and watched some of his interviews such as the BBC Horizon one (available on YouTube), but these do not fully reveal just what an incredible mind he had. He never lost the child's curiosity to learn about the world around him and had an obsessive desire to develop the mathematical and intuitive abilities required to do so. This is a frank and honest book relating the good and bad in him, and this makes it all the more enjoyable. Newton said, ?If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants? - Feynman took nothing for granted in science and insisted on standing on his own shoulders, and by doing so became one of the most influential and highly regarded scientists of all time.

    I highly recommend this book to people who want to learn more about RPF, about the evolution of quantum physics and the people who were pivotal to it and also to anyone curious as to what a Genius really is - This book only emphasises what a much-abused word it has become.

    With a constantly active and searching mind, his last words were reported to be 'I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring.'

    Excellently narrated.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • JEFF
    Caerphilly, United Kingdom
    6/17/11
    Overall
    "Genius? Certainly Feynman was, but Gleick..."

    I was leant this book (I mean the brick of a hardback that you turn pages to access) by a colleague and began reading it a couple of weeks ago, then took advantage of an offer to get the audiobook. I'm still some way from the end, but already there are some serious impediments to my total enjoyment.

    First is that Gleick, who clearly knows his subject, knows a lot more than just this subject, and lets us know. A biography is a journey following the stream of its subject's life, and it is right to expect some context from the surrounding landscape--it seems to me that Gleick deviates way too far into the surrounding countryside, often leaving the catchment of the waterway he should be following.

    Second, and worst, is that Dick Estell is seriously inappropriate as a narrator of a book so centred on scientific narrative. His reading is stilted and uncomfortable, with studied delivery of every syllable. As if that were not enough, he has is own unique pronunciation of primer. Pythagoras and Descartes.

    I'm ploughing on--I have a real and abiding admiration of Ritty Feynman, and despite my wider objections, I'm interested to learn of his career through Los Alamos and Caltech to the Committee of Enquiry into the Challenger disaster. I may update this review later...

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful
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