Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! Mass Market Paperback – Jan 1 1986
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A series of anecdotes shouldn't by rights add up to an autobiography, but that's just one of the many pieces of received wisdom that Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman (1918-88) cheerfully ignores in his engagingly eccentric book, a bestseller ever since its initial publication in 1985. Fiercely independent (read the chapter entitled "Judging Books by Their Covers"), intolerant of stupidity even when it comes packaged as high intellectualism (check out "Is Electricity Fire?"), unafraid to offend (see "You Just Ask Them?"), Feynman informs by entertaining. It's possible to enjoy Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman simply as a bunch of hilarious yarns with the smart-alecky author as know-it-all hero. At some point, however, attentive readers realize that underneath all the merriment simmers a running commentary on what constitutes authentic knowledge: learning by understanding, not by rote; refusal to give up on seemingly insoluble problems; and total disrespect for fancy ideas that have no grounding in the real world. Feynman himself had all these qualities in spades, and they come through with vigor and verve in his no-bull prose. No wonder his students--and readers around the world--adored him. --Wendy Smith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
History will remember Nobel Prize–winning physicist Feynman (1918–1988), for his work in quantum physics and his role in the investigation of the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle. Contemporary readers and listeners, however, will remember him best for his reputation as a free-thinking iconoclast whose personal adventures were hilarious, insightful and inspiring. Todd does a fabulous job of conveying Feynman's infectious enthusiasm and childlike sense of wonder with his energetic portrayal of the scientist. He's adept even in difficult sections, such as when Feynman "speaks Italian" and "Chinese"—inventing completely made-up but accurate sounding languages. Todd does a good job of portraying Feynman's inquisitive manner and conveys the book's message and attitude with aplomb. While he sounds nothing like the late physicist (Feynman— the subject of James Gleick's Genius—had a thick Long Island accent and sounded more like a cross between Yogi Bear and The Honeymooners' Ed Norton), Todd's clean, polite voice is a revelation. Based on the Norton paperback. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed his commencement talk that is last chapter in the book. He exhorts his listeners to create real empirically supportable results in their research. There is a new kind of scientist in our midst that I feel Dr. Feynman would have detested. This kind of scientist is less interested in the reality of what is being studied and more interested in advancing a certain agenda. There is a great web site (junkscience^com) that catalogues many of these scientific gunslingers.
This book is a retrospective that begins at the beginning and finishes in 1974 (many years before his report on the Challenger accident). It describes his early years working in a hotel, going to MIT, working at Los Alamos, and teaching at Cornell and Caltech. There are many demonstrations of his wicked wit and quirky (quarky?) sense of humor. He is quick to seize the opportunity to use his wit as is shown when he hides a door in his fraternity house.
This is a fun read!
Reading this book had a profound impact on my life as
it may on yours. Reading this is bound to stretch the
imaginations of educators, scientists, engineers,
"left brainers" and is a good read for the general public.
The companion paperback - Why Should you Care What Other
People Think? is equally as fascinating!
Dr. Olaf O. Storaasli,
NASA Langley Research Center,
genius. His tales are timeless and fantastic, and he tells
them so wonderfully you'll find yourself laughing out loud. A
Nobel Prize-winner has never been so wise, and these stories
convey a taste of Feynman's wild life with a free, open form;
much like him! This isn't really a biography, but
rather a collection of adventures that anyone will enjoy.
I really liked this book. It brings out the human side of Dr. Feynman. I've read his lectures on physics books and they are dry and full of stuff I've long forgotten. But after reading about his adventures with the California state school system in picking a science text book had me rolling on the ground laughing. As a student I always wondered how these bad textbooks got sent down to torment me and now I know. It surely wasn't Richard's fault!
Anyway a good read about the life of one who saw life through a different set of colored glasses.
The book isn't a biography as much as it is a simple collection of anecdotes. But when the anecdotes come from somebody with the story telling ability, the smarts and the optimism of Mr. Feynman, then that is plenty.
To be fair, each time I re-read the book, it seems a little more dated -- not in the charming sense of old-fashioned values like wearing your best suit for a Sunday afternoon stroll and saving love letters in a box tied together by twine, but in the sense of context. We have to remember, for example, that the price Mr. Feynman paid for a bottle of champagne at one point would be a small fortune if it were stated in today's dollars, and that traveling from New York to Los Angeles was not something one could do on a moment's notice, as it is today. More seriously, Mr. Feynman's treatment of women -- as objects to be conquered and as the gender that "owes" men something in return for a couple of drinks or a dinner -- will today seem politically incorrect to people who dwell on those things.
But there is too much great stuff between the book's covers to let those kinds of minor problems stand in the way.
Of all the qualities Mr. Feynman shares about himself on the book's pages, the one that I like the most is his child-like curiosity: he seems to want to know everything how every thing works.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
To anyone involved in nuclear power, physics or engineering a great read. I would also recommend 'The Making of the Atomic Bomb' by Richard RhodesPublished 4 months ago by Alexander Ironside
it is really a captivating book. When you start reading, you cannot leave it till its end. He was really a genius man.Published 5 months ago by Amir
Humorous. Fascinating and frightening facts about the author and early atomic experiments.Published 9 months ago by Aug
If you're looking at this book and have spent the time to scroll through and read the reviews, just add it to your cart already. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Anon