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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

4.5 (5200 )
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  •  
    Miriam Lawrence 09-15-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    75
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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.

    74 of 89 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 04-19-15
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 04-19-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "He was curious, was a risk-taker. He was a genius."

    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.

    25 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Monty Westbrook, ME 03-16-15
    Stephanie Monty Westbrook, ME 03-16-15 Member Since 2015
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    "I'm so glad people like this wrote it down!"
    What did you love best about Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!?

    Raw, honest and hilarious. I love how he explains why he makes the choices he makes. The strength of the character is appealing and refreshing. We need more people to stick to their guns no matter the consequence when they have decided to do a thing, make a bet or go against the grain...it's just more interesting to see a thing through. I'm a mid 30's female and feel like we would have made fine friends. Do they make them like this anymore? I'll take 2 please!

    You know a book is good when you wish you could have met the person IRL. He would probably never describe himself this way but I can see the impish twinkle in his eyes...


    What did you like best about this story?

    I'm glad when someone with a different way of thinking is able to navigate this crazy world and manages to stretch themselves past being comfortable in the pursuit of discovery, fun and expression without being so badly bruised by the experience. Here, here for intolerance to bureaucracy and pomp. How funny it would be today to try and get away with signing less than 13 times! I agree that if you trust someone enough to sign a thing that they should trust you to deliver the expense report, sans receipts..ROFL


    What about Raymond Todd’s performance did you like?

    Smooth voice, easy to listen to. Good characterization, voice acting and accents.


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

    Yes but I had to listen in pieces. I could have listened to the entirety if I had time.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anton Vikoch 02-18-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "very nice and fun"

    it was a very nice and fun audio book. interesting to see what things have changed and what have remained the same.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Mystic, CT 01-14-11
    Ted Mystic, CT 01-14-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alex Marysville, KS, United States 01-07-11
    Alex Marysville, KS, United States 01-07-11 Member Since 2001
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    "A Favorite"

    I love books like this one. Lots of interesting anecdotes from a person smarter than me (that part isn't to tough to achieve!). I have hundreds of audio books but I always like to come back to this one every couple of years. My father listened to part of it with me and got hooked, himself. We still talk about the parts of it we enjoyed the most.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe 05-25-05
    Joe 05-25-05 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gabriel Studio City, CA, USA 01-09-05
    Gabriel Studio City, CA, USA 01-09-05
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    "Excellent book!"

    Feynman's book is a fantastic account of a tremendously interesting life. Very funny and constantly engaging. I found the reader fairly good, and I looked forward to getting into the car so I could hear more. Highly recommended.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gretchen Underwood 05-25-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.


    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike 02-27-15
    Mike 02-27-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Curious mind in real world is never bored"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! to be better than the print version?

    i didn't read the printed version


    Any additional comments?

    i don't know why but there is around 5-10 seconds( may be more) missing at 35th chapter around 12:36. Except for that everything is perfect.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Sam
    3/30/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "didn't live up to the hype"

    This widely-recommended​ book disappointed me. Feynman seems to have put a huge amount of effort into being a maverick. I got the impression he was a bit of a jerk too.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Mutter
    Essex, United Kingdom
    5/19/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "His mind explained."

    Some parts went over my head when they referred to complex math or physics, but they would usually be an example of how his mind worked which is the theme of this book. I enjoyed learning about his objective mindset and hearing about how he reacted in certain situations. He touched on biology, chemistry, psychology, music, language, astronomy and of course physics as well as all manner of interesting areas of study. The final chapter is very moving, in which he addresses all those in areas of any study, and wish for scientific integrity.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Huw Davies
    3/19/17
    Overall
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    Story
    "Wonderfully Entertaining and Insightful"

    I didn't want this book to end. It's one of the best books I've listened to!

    Feynman offers learning through entertainment. It's filled with stories of this great man, and it's delivered in a fun way. The narrator's upbeat approach is perfect for it.

    You could listen to a section for 5-10 mins or binge listen for hours. It's in chronological order, but you could pick it up half way through and not be lost. Some of the chapters are under a minute, while others last for 30+.

    A wonderful man, sharing excellent stories in an entertaining way. The world would be a much better place with more people like him.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jim Vaughan
    Malvern, UK
    12/30/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • mackemafc
    United Kingdom
    12/9/14
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    Performance
    Story
    "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.


    1 of 1 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.

    3 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.

    5 of 7 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.


    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • John
    UK
    11/14/17
    Overall
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    Story
    "You don't need to know any science to enjoy this"

    Thoroughly enjoyable and brilliantly performed. Richard Fineman led a fascinating life but it's his self-effacing, matter of fact approach that makes his stories so engaging. Genuinely didn't want to get to the end of this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. R. Miller
    11/1/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fun, insightful and healthily unconventional"

    Full of chuckles and thoughtful moments. A collection of simple, yet great stories. Definitely worth a listen for non-physics minded people who are interested in science

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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