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A Brief History of Time | [Stephen Hawking]

A Brief History of Time

This landmark book is for those of us who prefer words to equations; this is the story of the ultimate quest for knowledge, the ongoing search for the secrets at the heart of time and space. Its author, Stephen W. Hawking, is arguably the greatest mind since Einstein. From the vantage point of the wheelchair, where he has spent the last 20 years trapped by Lou Gehrig's disease, Professor Hawking has transformed our view of the universe. A Brief History of Time is Hawking's classic introduction to today's most important scientific ideas.
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Publisher's Summary

This landmark book is for those of us who prefer words to equations; this is the story of the ultimate quest for knowledge, the ongoing search for the secrets at the heart of time and space. Its author, Stephen W. Hawking, is arguably the greatest mind since Einstein. From the vantage point of the wheelchair, where he has spent the last 20 years trapped by Lou Gehrig's disease, Professor Hawking has transformed our view of the universe. A Brief History of Time is Hawking's classic introduction to today's most important scientific ideas about the cosmos. It is read here by the Emmy Award-winning host of The Michael Jackson Show on KABC-TV.

©1988 Stephen W. Hawking (P)2005 Phoenix Books, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"A masterful summary of what physicists now think the world is made of and how it got that way." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Lively and provocative, Hawking clearly possesses a natural teacher's gift, easy, good-natured humor, and an ability to illustrate highly complex propositions with analogies plucked from daily life." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (1349 )
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3.9 (574 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jeff Parent 11-15-03
    Jeff Parent 11-15-03 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great book, but...."

    I really enjoyed this book. It helped me better understand many of the great advances in physics, astronomy, and cosmology of the 20th century. The narration was great and included a couple jokes and personal notes about/from the author that lent a human touch to the subject.

    As good as the book is, I think it would be a real struggle for those who don?t already have a familiarity with some of the topics. Further, because of the books age some of the ideas are out of date (e.g. the latest evidence is that the universe is not only expanding, but doing so at an ever increasing rate). Nonetheless, the book is worth reading and re-reading (as I?ll do).

    24 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raema Canandaigua, NY, USA 11-05-06
    Raema Canandaigua, NY, USA 11-05-06
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    "would recommend to anyone"

    A few people said here that the book was boring because they already knew all the concepts... I couldn't DISagree more. I'm a physics/astrophysics student in my senior year, and know all these concepts like the back of my hand, but this book was still such a pleasure to listen to. Hawking writes in such a way that this book was one of the best I've ever encountered (on these topics), and has the potential to really intreague anyone and everyone. I'd recommend it to anyone!

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Seattle, WA, United States 05-19-04
    James Seattle, WA, United States 05-19-04 Member Since 2000
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    "Easily Digestible Presentation of Complex Topics"

    Content - This is a "pop physics" classic. Fairly complex topics are covered in an entertaining and clear manner. There is a "leap" in the book in moving from the macro to the micro, but this isn't so much a function of the book, but of the science at this point.
    Math isn't really needed, but a scientific mindset helps

    Adaptation - as it is unabridged, there is little in the way of adaptation. The "voice" of the book is of a "lecture" type which translates well. There are figures in the printed work that help clarify things, but these are few and only minimally impact the experience

    Narration - Solid. It is a fairly emotionally even subject and the reader doesn't attempt to "overdress" the text.
    I have heard Hawking lectures read by Hawking and, sadly, the mechanical voice can be stressful to listen to at first (you do get used to it), but a professional human reader is easier

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald Arlington, MA, USA 05-22-03
    Donald Arlington, MA, USA 05-22-03 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great book, great recording"

    I'm going through this for a second time a year or so after the first and am loving it. The writing is personal with insight into the creative scientific process. The narrator and sound quality are wonderful: good inflections. The narrator sometimes hesitates on words in a way that makes it sound like he's thinking or recalling, it's delightful.

    33 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt danville, CA, USA 08-29-03
    Matt danville, CA, USA 08-29-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Elegance"

    This book dives right in and tells a story that helped me understand how many of the 20th century advances in theoretical physics relate to my world/life.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Austin Olathe, KS, USA 03-16-05
    Austin Olathe, KS, USA 03-16-05 Member Since 2004
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    "Uncommonly good!"

    As you already know what this book is about, I will tell you how it affected a student with limited mathematical background and none in physics. Well, it was wonderful- this is one of the only audiobooks for which I must abandon all other sources of distraction. Hawking's descriptions and analogies are spot-on for my taste, and I rarely had to re-listen to any of it to grasp the concepts.
    The narration is good too. Jackson, thankfully unique from most stoic-sounding professionals, actually gets caught up in what he is reading! I believe that speaks volumes, as it were, about the book itself. Even (and perhaps especially) if you're not a fan of these topics, take this chance to culture yourself with this mind-expanding prize.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ripley Nox MidWest 08-16-08
    Ripley Nox MidWest 08-16-08 Member Since 2006
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    "terrific explanations for the layperson"

    I also own this book in hardcover. As an unscientifically trained person with a passion for reading the latest news in scientific theory, this is an excellent resource to go back to for clarification on certain points.

    My only complaint would be with the narrator, who seems not to have read the script beforehand and sometimes forgets he is making a recording- even acting surprised at the material and stopping midword or midsentence at times.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shana APO, AE, United States 04-02-12
    Shana APO, AE, United States 04-02-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Find another narrator"
    Would you try another book from Stephen Hawking and/or Michael Jackson?

    While the content from Stephen Hawking is interesting, it's difficult to follow due to the narrator's very strange vocal cadence. Not only is his timing odd, but it sounds as if it's the first time he's glanced at the manuscript, stumbling over words.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony G Lazaro 02-06-12
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    "Can barely listen"

    While I expect the underlying book to be pretty good, the narration is so bad that I simply couldn't get through more than about an hour of this recording. The reader clearly has difficulty with scientific terms and pronunciation, but that is something that should be taken care of in production. With randomly quickly-read clauses and terms interspersed with slowly read sentences, it's just too difficult to follow what Dr. Hawking is saying.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy Denver, CO, USA 07-17-04
    Timothy Denver, CO, USA 07-17-04
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    "Challenging for a beginner"

    For a thirty-something who hasn't studied much science since high-school biology, this was a bit challenging...but rewarding.

    Hawking delivers a summary of the popular theories on the origin of our planet, it's place in the universe, and everything we know and don't know about the laws that govern it.

    He does a good job of helping the layman understand what may be unfamiliar concepts (they were to me anyway) like the second law of thermodynamics, the event horizon, relativity and red shift by use of analogy and "for example" type descriptions. The best audience would seem to be a college science major who has a bit of a passion for astronomy or physics or the like.

    I found the reader's voice a bit monotone and I could often hear more excitement and animation in Hawking's words by re-reading them aloud in my own mind.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
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  • Andrew
    Nottingham, England, United Kingdom
    4/17/06
    Overall
    "Fascinating and bewildering."

    I have read the book, and thoroughly enjoyed it, however the audio version assists understanding of more complicated hypotheses, by providing the listener with a passive and more comfortable viewpoint.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
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