Regular price: $21.27

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

One of the most influential thinkers of our time, Stephen Hawking is an intellectual icon, known not only for the adventurousness of his ideas, but for the clarity and wit with which he expresses them. In this new work, Hawking brings us to the cutting edge of theoretical physics, where truth is often stranger than fiction, to explain in layman's terms the principles that control our universe.

Like many in the community of theoretical physics, Professor Hawking is seeking to uncover the grail of science - the elusive Theory of Everything that lies at the heart of the cosmos. In his accessable and often playful style, he guides us on his search to uncover the secrets of the universe - from supergravity to supersymmetry, from quantum theory to M-theory, from holography to duality. And he lets us behind the scenes of one of his most exciting intellectual adventures as he seeks "to combine Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and Richard Feynman's idea of multiple histories into one complete unified theory that will describe everything that happens in the universe."

With characteristic exuberance, Professor Hawking invites us to be fellow travelers on this extraordinary voyage through spacetime. The Universe in a Nutshell is essential listening for all of us who want to understand the universe in which we live.

©2001 Stephen Hawking (P)2001 Random House Inc., Random House Audio, a Division of Random House Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Hawking clearly possesses a natural teacher's gifts...and an ability to illustrate highly complex propositions with analogies plucked from daily life." (The New York Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4.5 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars
Sort by:
  • Overall

Educational and yet fun.

I truly enjoyed this book. I love how as he speaks on a subject, Stephen throws in little tid-bits about his life (like where someone has sat in his chair at cambridge, or funny things about his daughter's birth).

I imagine the science and math would be hard to follow for people not previously "in" on some of the lingo and concepts, but he seems to break it down well enough though.

He repeats himself sometimes, I'm not sure if thats the reader making a mistake, or a typographical thing, but I noticed it more than once. Also, he reviews concepts he's already illustrated earlier, as if this book were written for students and under the assumtion only individual chapters will be read.

I love how he gives credit, even to scientists that differ in opinion from him. He breaks down to the almost stupid level some concepts to help you understand why they will work, or not work. I also love how he dives into the risky waters of time travel and religion as he talks, and explains. I'm sure many out there will have arguements with his logic on a thing or two, but who can argue with his courage to discuss the previously undiscussable (well, outside of sci-fi).

A great read, and it covers such a broad spectrum of space-science. I recommend it to anyone who craves to understand anything about the universe from black-holes to parallel dimensions.

22 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Universe For Dummies

Dr. Hawkins did it right this time (no pun intended) with this book. If your eyes glazed over in an attempt to follow along and wrap your head around the physics theories in his first book, your are going to love this one. As he explains in the book's introduction, in the first book the chapters (or ideas) built upon each successive chapter. If you didn't understand after chapter two, you could not hope to understand chapter 3,4,5, etc. With this book, he builds the foundation in chapters 1 & 2. So if chapter 3 fizzes your gray matter, you can skip it because the remaining chapters stand on their own.

If you are a space time junkie that is fascinated by space time and quantum mechanics you are in for a very special treat. This man's mind is as special as the theories he explains. This is a great book. Buy it.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Tough going, but well worth the listen

After completing this book, I was amazed that Hawking would claim in the introduction that it was meant to be "easier to understand" than "A brief history of time". It has been several years since I have read the latter book, but I wouldn't rate "The universe in a nutshell" as easier. It was tough going. It was, however, fascinating, and what I enjoyed most were some of Hawking's less inaccessible comments on the future of scientific progress and human existence in the later chapters. The narration was reasonably good. This was well worth the purchase.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Very good

This book was full of really great concepts and ideas that got me thinking and inspired. Although I was lost a couple times throughout the book, most of the time the ideas where very simply put using everyday metaphors anyone would understand.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

This stuff is *hard*

I have always been amazed that Stephen Hawkings' books have been so popular, as his subject is so difficult. There is no easy way to get to concepts like Yang Mills fields, multidimensional space-time, and quantum theories of gravitation. Hawkings is a brilliant and informal guide, but there is no way around that fact that the concepts of 20th century physics are very difficult (let alone 21st century physics). In part because these concepts are so familiar to Hawkings himself, he does not do a very good job of connecting them with things that might be more familiar. Or maybe it is more accurate to say that he does his best, but the concepts remain very complex and remote.

In general, this is an engaging book, but I was hanging on by my fingernails trying to keep up.

53 of 62 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Bertrand Russell was Right.

The English mathematician/philospher Bertrand Russell once claimed that popular books on relativity become unintelligible just when they begin to discuss something of real substance. One cannot help feeling that this is once again the case with Stephen Hawking's audiobook. I bought this book and I have been moving the narrator "back in forth in time" with my replay button, listening and relistening to what Hawking writes. The naration is outstanding. However, the organization seems higgly-piggly. We are given tastes of general relativity, particle spins, string theory, multiple quantum histories, black holes, etc. But,there is never any pause to fully explicate what is going on. I for one would prefer listening to Professor Hawking tell us how he visualizes the electro-magnetic field, as well as how light propagates within it. What is the difference between an electron (which is intimately tied up with electricity) and a photon of light (which is apparently created by undulations in the electro-magnetic field)? I wish Audible would offer audiobooks by Paul Davies. Professor Davies is somewhat more experienced at explaining things to us students in the back of the class. Then again, perhaps that's the nature of books which give us the universe in a nutshell. The nut is too hard to crack.

17 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great book.

If you could sum up The Universe in a Nutshell in three words, what would they be?

Interesting concise funny

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Hawking does a great job in summing up a bunch of physics questions and theories in this book. He also reveals that he has a sense of humor reminiscent of Douglas Adams of Hitchhikers Guide.

Have you listened to any of Simon Prebble’s other performances before? How does this one compare?


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I am still perplexed by the chapter on the histories of the universe but the way he explained time travel and other theories was very straightforward and interesting.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story


Hawking, one of the greatest minds of our time. This is a work of art.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

awesome, learned a lot

I just wanted to hear about some universe theory's and history. RELATIVELY great buy! In this string at least.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

This book is better read as a physical book

Given the complexity of the subject matter this is not suitable for audio book. It was hard to comprehend while driving or doing other activities. it demands total concentration.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful