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Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! | [Richard P. Feynman]

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!

With his characteristic eyebrow-raising behavior, Richard P. Feynman once provoked the wife of a Princeton dean to remark, "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" But the many scientific and personal achievements of this Nobel Prize-winning physicist are no laughing matter. Here, woven with his scintillating views on modern science, Feynman relates the defining moments of his accomplished life.
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Publisher's Summary

With his characteristic eyebrow-raising behavior, Richard P. Feynman once provoked the wife of a Princeton dean to remark, "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" But the many scientific and personal achievements of this Nobel Prize-winning physicist are no laughing matter. In addition to solving the mystery of liquid helium, Feynman has been commissioned to paint a naked female toreador and asked to crack the uncrackable safes guarding the atomic bomb's most critical secrets. He has traded ideas with Einstein and Bohr, discussed gambling odds with Nick the Greek, and accompanied a ballet on the bongo drums. Here, woven with his scintillating views on modern science, Feynman relates the defining moments of his accomplished life.

©1985 by Richard P. Feynman; (P)1997 by Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (2121 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Charles Brown Deer, WI, United States 10-16-07
    Charles Brown Deer, WI, United States 10-16-07 Member Since 2005

    I make my living as a truck driver. I fill the space between deliveries with audio books.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Inspiring book, HORRIBLE reader."

    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.

    67 of 72 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Raleigh, NC, USA 02-17-04
    Ellen Raleigh, NC, USA 02-17-04
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    "What was Mr. Feynman like?"

    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!

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Petersen Portland, OR United States 08-19-06
    Steven Petersen Portland, OR United States 08-19-06 Member Since 2014
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    "My favorite audio book"

    I love this book - I'm actually listening to it for the second time, which I almost never do. I think the narrator takes the perfect tone for the material, and I found Feynman's stories to be fascinating and quite amusing - especially the parts about Los Alamos. I don't read or listen to many autobiographies, but by the end of this one I found myself regretting that I never met him.

    24 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew London, N/A, United Kingdom 06-27-03
    Andrew London, N/A, United Kingdom 06-27-03
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    "A wonderful book..."

    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.

    48 of 54 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Blaine 03-03-03
    S. Blaine 03-03-03 Member Since 2012

    sblaine

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    "Well Worth the Read"

    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.

    38 of 43 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miriam Lawrence 09-15-04
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    "Terrible narration"

    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.

    63 of 72 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Mystic, CT 01-14-11
    Ted Mystic, CT 01-14-11
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    "What a character"

    The personal side of Richard Feynman is very unexpected for a brilliant physicist, he was fun, almost goofy, and open about it.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe 05-25-05
    Joe 05-25-05
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    "Great story about an interesting man..."

    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.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cher Hartford, KY, USA 10-07-07
    Cher Hartford, KY, USA 10-07-07
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    "Endearing"

    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.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gretchen Underwood 05-25-13
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    "I can't believe a narrator managed to kill this."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    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.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    These are Feynman's stories and the narrator was not at all a convincing Feynman.


    Did Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! inspire you to do anything?

    Grab my copy of the book off of the shelf and read it again.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 114 results PREVIOUS1212NEXT
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  • Hennell
    Bristol, UK
    1/20/15
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    "enthralling"

    A fascinating and almost unbelievable series of tales that is hard to stop listening to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • James
    1/5/15
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    "Remarkable stories"

    A highly enjoyable collection of stories. I was expecting a lot of stories about physics, but very few of these- you really hear about a wonderfully unusual life

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jim Vaughan
    Malvern, UK
    12/30/14
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    "Glimpse into a Brilliant (Almost Autistic) Mind"

    This book was an eye opener for me - a rare view into the very different thought processes of a genius like Feynman. Sometimes he is almost autistic in his thinking, often finding social situations incomprehensible, which is emphasised by the cleverly unemotional narration by Raymond Todd.

    For example, when colleagues start playing around, spinning plates in the dining room at Los Alamos, Feynman gets obsessed with the correlation between the wobble rate and the speed of spin. Apparently, from this he developed a brilliant bit of maths, used in QM. Another time he develops an obsession with cracking all the stations safes, and picking all the locks, for no better reason than the challenge of pitting his mind against the safe's designers. What does he use this talent for? To play a joke on his colleagues!

    Another memorable incident he describes is when a tough guy challenges him in a bar. He is almost dissociated in the way he describes his body taking over, dodging the guys fist, and landing a knock out punch - all on its own.

    In places the style reminded me of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time'. It seems maybe that he is boasting, but then will say something that shows his awkwardness at dealing with other people (such as the incident of the title), and you realise he is probably just being factual.

    It's a book packed with anecdotes, charting the life of one of the great minds of our time, as seen from his own peculiar point of view. Both entertaining, and a revelation of another's mind.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • mackemafc
    United Kingdom
    12/9/14
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    "From the Manhattan Project to the carnival in Rio!"
    What did you like most about Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!?

    How much it surprised me. This was gifted to me by a friend and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I wanted to find out what was going to happen to the Nobel Prize winning physicist. Feynman, it turns out, was much more than just a physicist. This is the story of a man not afraid to live life to full and by the end of the book i found myself feeling quite jealous of the life he carved out for himself. By no means a perfect man and definitely not a perfect husband this book gives an insight into how one of the great brains of the 20th century viewed life. If you have any interest in finding out about one of the great characters of the last 100 years I would whole heartedly recommend this title.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Yas
    11/30/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Must listen!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, Feynmano won a Nobel for physics and even though he wasn't find of awards I am glad he got it. Truly an inspirational character


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!?

    He fixes radios by thinking! This is in the beginning of the book and had me laughing. I felt proud of young feynman.


    What does Raymond Todd bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Outstanding narration. I would definitely get more books read by him. Truly bought it to life and kept it entertaining.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Laugh a lot but learn a lot too.


    Any additional comments?

    Recommended for all budding scientist and professionala alike. Fantastic stuff!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Roderic
    Victoria Park, Australia
    10/13/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Ideas and Energy"
    What made the experience of listening to Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! the most enjoyable?

    The energy and accent of the narrator fitted perfectly with the words of Richard Feynman.


    What other book might you compare Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! to, and why?

    I have not listened to an audiobook quite like this. I will be looking for more of this type of thing but I suspect there are few scientists like Feynman whose work of this elucidatory type is available.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • jeffrey
    United Kingdom
    10/4/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not What I was Expecting"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. I was kind of disappointed. This turned out to be series of disjointed stories about random events that happened in his life. Its like being at an 11 hour party where someone rattles off various things that they did. Most were just bland. Some were funny in a sad way, and about half way thorough I embarrassed for he viewed some of these situations. I was left wanting for more insight to the Los Alamos days, but these were more about how he was able to figure about how to get into file cabinets.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Richard P. Feynman again?

    Yes, I already have, but these were his lectures


    What about Raymond Todd’s performance did you like?

    Yes, he was very good and actually made it more interesting than what it really was, by how he read it.


    Was Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! worth the listening time?

    No....


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dr. G. Wilson
    Oxford
    9/10/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointingly not Feynman but a biography"
    What disappointed you about Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!?

    I'd expected lectures by Feynman not a load of long winded anecdotes told by a sleepy drawling American who was obviously reading with too little preparation.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Richard P. Feynman again?

    By Feynman yes, but not this.


    What didn’t you like about Raymond Todd’s performance?

    As I said the pace is wrong, the accent is wrong and the preparation inadequate.


    What character would you cut from Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!?

    The narrator.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • H. L. Mason
    Spain
    9/8/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "GREAT FUN"
    Where does Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Very near the top


    What did you like best about this story?

    An extremely amusing and entertaining description of the various incidents that have have punctuated the author's life, given in a well spaced out chronological order. What stands out more than anything else is the author's exceptional sense of humour.


    Have you listened to any of Raymond Todd’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    No


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    This was a very genial romp through the life of a very distinguished personality with a supreme gift for self effacement - just what a Nobel Prize winner should be. What a refreshing contrast to the suffocating banality of today's "celebrity culture".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • J
    7/8/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "biographical stories chronicling his life"
    Where does Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It was a load lighter than the factual books that i normally listen to. I will listen to it again one day.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was fun, packed with the sort of stories where he looks good, the author is concentrating on the little things while the historic events which he played a part in rattle by almost unnoticed. it is a good listen and peels back a few layers of the onion. I would be interested in hearing a independent biography that is more critical to give me balance.


    What about Raymond Todd’s performance did you like?

    easy to understand, sounds good.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    laugh a few times and appreciate him as a person just doing his things


    Any additional comments?

    A few of the stories are a bit dated when it come to gender roles and attitudes to women today, it is not meant to annoy or anger anyone, but i fear it will.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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