©1985 by Richard P. Feynman; (P)1997 by Blackstone Audiobooks
"A chain reaction is not a bad analogy for Feynman's life. From a critical mass of gray matter it goes off in all directions, producing both heat and light." (Time)
I've known about Feynman for more than 10 years, but never taken the time to read his work. I selected this book as an intro to the man and as a test to determine if I wanted to read/listen to more of his work. IT WAS EXCELLENT! A fantastic glimpse into the great scientific minds of the 20th century. Feynman was an incredibly observant and witty fella, and this book displays these attributes admirably. FYI, the narrator took a little getting used to, but after the first chapter or two I actually began enjoying his voice and intonations.
It's a testament to Feynman's interesting life and perspective that I was able to sit through a reading by what I consider the absolute worst reader ever. Listen to a sample of this one before buying it. The reader uses the same limited cadence and inflection for everything! From a funny story about a cocktail party to a death in the family, the reader's delivery is static. To make things worse, he reads everything with what sounds to me like a haughty, almost concieted tone. Feynman was well known for his self confidence, but not for arrogance.
As for the content of the book, only a small percentage is directly related to physics. This book has more insights on how to live life than anything.
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
I've been circling this book, 'The Feynman Lectures on Physics', and Gleck's 'Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman' for awhile. This one seemed the most fun and easiest place to start. I was driving from Taos/Santa Fe back to Phoenix last week and as I drove past Los Alamos, it was just the particle collision in my brain I needed to start on Feynman.
Often, memoirs are hard to read because you know a bunch of it is façade. A person is showing you a part of them for a purpose. They want to be viewed as smart, important, funny, etc. They carefully guide you through a Potemkin village of their life. Richard Feynman's memoir is different. Not that I don't think Feynman had an ego. He might have even had an agenda with the book. But, for the most part, he seemed much more interested in the stories he wanted to tell, rather than on how they would make him look. He wasn't all that worried about how he looked so much. His entire life was built around doing what he wanted, exploring what he found interesting, violating taboos, beating his own drums and cutting his own path.
He was a Nobel-prize winning polymath physicist whose other talents included playing drums, teaching, drawing naked girls, picking locks, making atomic bombs, practical jokes, and telling stories. He wasn't interested in the usual trappings of success. Many of those things annoyed him. He was curious. He was a risk-taker. He was a genius.
I would absolutely recommend the book (and have several times in the past); however, I would recommend that they read the book, rather than listening to this audiobook. The narrator killed a book that I have always enjoyed.
These are Feynman's stories and the narrator was not at all a convincing Feynman.
Grab my copy of the book off of the shelf and read it again.
I'd heard of this guy but had never got around to actually reading any of his books. This is a great way to get to know Mr Feynman without getting into physics, maths, etc. The narrator does an amazing job. By far the best book I have read/listened in a long time. And yes, I did laugh out loud in public a couple of times.
If you don't openly smile while listening to this book (particularly the first 60% of it) then you've passed on. A physicist with a sense of humor should not be missed.
If you have any idea of the influence this scientist on the world of physics you should love hearing how he came up with his ideas. If you don't all the more reason to learn about this unique and fastinating man. I had a great deal of trouble with the tone of the narrator and found it distracting. I prefer a straight read without an attempt to mimic the speach of the author. This is subjective, but you might want to check it out to see if you would prefer to read than listen to this fastinating book. A look into the thought processes of a genius. Check it out!
This book demonstrates that the most brilliant teacher of the 20th century was also a dear man. No lukewarm list of achievements, this spyglass peeks in on the daily life of genius as child through his extraordinary and colorful life.
I bought this title with great anticipation -- my husband has read all of Feynman's books and raved about them. And the book itself did seem promising. But for the first time in the many years now that I've been using Audible, I had to stop listening to this one just a chapter or so in, because the reader was so awful. He read every sentence in this strange, sing-songy voice that made me insane and had no relevance to the words he was reading. I just couldn't stand it anymore. I'll have to try to find the time to read Feynman's books in print. I strongly suggest listening to a sample before you purchase this one--maybe my reaction to the reader was a fluke, but better safe than sorry.
I didn't know quite what to expect with this book. But I found Feynman's life to be quite inspiring, and hilarious every step of the way. I didn't know his name before, but he's an instant idol of mine.
This is a fantastic book, and you urge it to continue as Feynman leads us through his life, from the mundane to the truly extra-ordinary. What really sets this book apart is the complete, unashamed honesty with which he approaches every situation. That one man could have won the Nobel Prize (that "damn" prize), worked on the atomic bomb, become a paid musician and paid artist and given evidence in a trial supporting a strip club just sums up the sort of character Feynman was. Someone who loved life and embraced every opportunity. That enthusiasm comes through in his breathless-at-times writing style and unstructured format, but you really don't care. It's like listening to the world's most interesting person talk in a bar.
The only slight downside is the variable audio quality and the narrator's penchant for doing voices and accents, which can be jarring at times. It certainly doesn't ruin this fantastic book though.
"Wish I'd known him!"
Yes, I would, particularly to somebody who understood some maths & physics.
People thought he was being pretentious because he learned Portuguese when living in Brazil. They set out to tease him by introducing him to a lady who had been brought up in China and greeted him in Chinese. He boldly replied with a bit of nonsense which sounded Chinese and she said "Wouldn't you just know it, I speak Mandarin and he speaks Cantonese?!"
I actually have the book, but he makes some wonderful sound effects and noises which you don't get from the printed page.
Mainly it made me laugh, but the chapter when he witnessed the first A-bomb test made me sad - particularly when he went on to like, admire and work with Japanese colleagues.
If you're not sure and think this might be a bit stuffy and erudite, take a chance on it - you'll be glad you did.
"An absolute joy to read"
I was expecting heavy going, well you would wouldn't you? But this was a pleasure to read; stories from theoretical physics through to picking up girls in a bar, all told by a 20th Century genius.
I couldn't recommend this highly enough.
"Excellent - interesting, witty and insightful!"
One of the best audiobooks I listened to. Extremely enjoyable and some lovely insights to life:)
Well worth a listen!
I loved the paper book, so looked forward to this. However the quality let it down. it's not a dreadful recording, but the presenter's voice came across as too childish which seemed to change the tone of some parts of the book and there were a few repeated sentences. Somehow the excitement of a genius that played with science felt more like a blundering amateur.
"A wicked genius - a beautiful life"
I know more about the world having read this world - and it is even more fun than I suspected
"The Greatest Showman"
A set of amusing, entertaining and thought provoking anecdotal stories from a man who was rightly described as a genius. Richard Feynman was capable of many other things but he would fail miserably at being lazy, boring and stupid. A lover of showgirls, pranks and exposing corruption and failures in the system, his absolute self-confidence and scorn for convention got him into some amazing scrapes. From bar brawls, scaring the neighbourhood with his maniacal drum and breaking into safes, he was a true force of nature and was also able to understand its myriad of intricacies. This is a fascinating insight into a man with a brilliant mind and an insatiable zest for life. He was passionate about his teaching profession and his students, but was also one of the scientists who developed the nuclear bomb and his thoughts on this achievement make sobering reading.
This is only a snapshot of an incredible life but there is enough here to make you thirst for more.
I have read in one review that the reviewer considered Mr F to be self centred and a womaniser. I disagree very strongly, in all his brilliance he has a certain naivety and sees things in a straight uncomplicated manor. I found this book fascinating and read well. My only complaint is that the editing wasn't up to Audible's usual standards, there were a few passages that were repeated - as in - for the recording process to be able to be picked up accurately. There was also one spot where the words 'jumped', even when I backtracked and played it again in case I had done something accidentally .
All in all an excellent read
This is an interesting insight into the life of a scientist with a very unusual mind and outlook on life. The narrator's tone suits the piece. It also gives a good picture of life in America in the 50's and 60's. Although the book seems quite long, and the tone can be a little monotonous in places. I would suggest reading in stages - not all at once.
"Not A Lot Of Laughs"
I was expecting to be entertained and enlightened by this much lauded book but I found it dull and boring and Feynman comes across as a particularly unpleasant individual, an egotist of the first rank. I gave up on it just over half way through as I could no longer tolerate his presence. He may have been a genius and was undoubtedly a great physicist but he most certainly was not a good writer. The book has an undeserved reputation mainly due to the uncritical worshiping of all things Feynman by his adoring fans. Raymond Todd does a workmanlike job with the narration but unfortunately the source material leaves a lot to be desired.
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