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Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! Audiobook

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!

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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

4.4 (3964 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Charles Floading Brown Deer, WI United States 10-16-07
    Charles Floading Brown Deer, WI United States 10-16-07 Member Since 2005
    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.

    91 of 104 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad Grimm SANDY, UT, US 11-09-09
    Brad Grimm SANDY, UT, US 11-09-09 Member Since 2016
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    "Hilarious and inspiring"

    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.

    5 of 5 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.

    53 of 61 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Blaine 03-03-03
    S. Blaine 03-03-03 Member Since 2016

    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.

    40 of 46 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 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cher Hartford, KY, USA 10-07-07
    Cher Hartford, KY, USA 10-07-07 Member Since 2015
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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.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe 05-25-05
    Joe 05-25-05 Member Since 2014
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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.

    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martin 03-07-15
    Martin 03-07-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Patty O'Furniture"

    Feynman packed a lot into one life. It's as much a book on how to explore by taking chances as it is an entertaining tour de force of a great personality on a path to self discovery. It would be easy to dismiss the compendium of stories as narcissistic vignettes if it wasn't for the fact that he was a Nobel Laureate and the content so cleanly written by a great personality. It's enjoyable to listen to the stories of Feynman.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Citizen 02-17-15
    Citizen 02-17-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Pleasant and amusing story about an eccentric"

    Feynman is probably one of the most charismatic physicists in history. This narrator captures his "voice" with delightful nuance.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 10-31-11
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 10-31-11 Member Since 2008

    Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Likeable, entertaining man!"

    The narration was perfection, and I had to keep reminding myself it wasn't the author himself narrating. It's a sort of stream-of-consciousness telling of the many events in his life that define his quirky curiosity and intelligence. Entertaining and humorous--loved it!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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  • Simon
    BristolUnited Kingdom
    8/6/09
    Overall
    "Endlessly interesting"

    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.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Chris
    BILLERICAY, United Kingdom
    7/4/13
    Overall
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    Story
    "Wish I'd known him!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I would, particularly to somebody who understood some maths & physics.


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

    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?!"


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

    I actually have the book, but he makes some wonderful sound effects and noises which you don't get from the printed page.


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

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Chris
    London, United Kingdom
    10/20/11
    Overall
    "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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    Sutton, United Kingdom
    7/28/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. R. D. Cox
    London
    5/31/11
    Overall
    "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

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Kaggy
    United Kingdom
    8/27/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • mollyeyre
    Leicestershire UK
    11/15/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating man"

    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

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Sue McW
    UK
    8/18/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting Insight"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • JOHN
    County Cork, Ireland
    6/30/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not A Lot Of Laughs"
    What disappointed you about Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!?

    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.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Megan
    TONBRIDGE, United Kingdom
    1/5/13
    Overall
    "Great book well read"

    A collection of autobiographical stories the Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman. Some funny, others fascinating and others awe inspiring. Expressively read by someone whose voice I could imagine to sound very similar to Richard Feynman.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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