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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 (584 )
5 star
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4.4 (446 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Simon BristolUnited Kingdom 06/08/2009
    Simon BristolUnited Kingdom 06/08/2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris BILLERICAY, United Kingdom 04/07/2013
    Chris BILLERICAY, United Kingdom 04/07/2013 Member Since 2013
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    "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 20/10/2011
    Chris London, United Kingdom 20/10/2011
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    "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 28/07/2013
    Mark Sutton, United Kingdom 28/07/2013 Member Since 2013
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    "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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kaggy 27/08/2015
    Kaggy 27/08/2015 Member Since 2013

    Will read anything within reason.

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    "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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mollyeyre 15/11/2013
    mollyeyre 15/11/2013
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    "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

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr. R. D. Cox London 31/05/2011
    Mr. R. D. Cox London 31/05/2011 Member Since 2012
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    "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
  •  
    Sue McW UK 18/08/2013
    Sue McW UK 18/08/2013 Member Since 2012

    SueMac

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    "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 30/06/2013
    JOHN County Cork, Ireland 30/06/2013 Member Since 2009
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    "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 05/01/2013
    Megan TONBRIDGE, United Kingdom 05/01/2013
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    "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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  • Lee Gesmer
    Dover, MA USA
    12/04/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Entertaining and "lol" funny"
    Any additional comments?

    A funny, insightful and entertaining book that I highly recommend. Unlike some critics, I thought the reader was just fine.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Onemena
    09/04/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What a Guy!"

    The following review will be given through a series of text messages between me and a friend.
    -------
    Me: *picture of the audible sale of "Surely You're joking Mr. Feynman"*

    Friend: its a good book. i hope you got it! let me know what you think!
    -------
    Me: (Friend), I am reading this book and I am absolutely jealous of how awesome he is. He sounds like such a badass.

    Friend: oh ya. thats because he is

    Me: Like when you hear of manly men like Chuck Norris etc, you're like "that's badass but I don't feel the need to be like them" but hearing about this guy I'm like "that's badass and WHY AM I NOT LIKE THIS?!"

    Friend: haha exactly. He is the rock star of physicist
    --------
    Me: This book is awesome. I wonder if this is how other people feel when they read David Sedaris' books.

    Friend: For sure
    --------
    Me: This is literally the most addictive biography I've ever read. I mean, Amy poehler, Tina fey, etc... This is addictive.

    Friend: Ya man, I know. It's good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Eric
    Maui, Hawaii, United States
    11/10/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very enjoyable"

    Very enjoyable audiobook. Basically a collection of short stories by physicist Richard Feynman. A love of science would be helpful for the listener, but this is not a prerequisite. Clever and humorous.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Tom
    14/05/08
    Overall
    "Reader is Tough"

    You should listen to a clip before buying this book. The reader sounds like he is reading a children's book; it's impossible to listen to it!

    14 of 21 people found this review helpful
  • M Bradford
    Walsall, West Midlands United Kingdom
    06/11/03
    Overall
    "One of my favourites"

    I usually listen to audio books in the car, travelling to and from work. This was the first one in a long time that made me want more traffic to delay me so that I could listen to it a bit longer. I was often sitting in the car for a good five minutes after I had arrived home listening to one of the anecdotes.

    A fascinating insight into one of the greatest minds of the last century.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Gary
    Sun City, AZ
    20/02/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant funny man gone too soon."

    The most practical and brilliant scientist of his time. The story of his life is truly amazing. Living in Brazil gambling in Las Vegas safe cracking. A truly funny man and an credible life

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Andre Felipe Gomma de Azevedo
    27/11/05
    Overall
    "Brilliant autobio"

    There are some very poignant parts and some very funny ones as well in this audiobook. The narration is fabulous and the perspectives of an insider on the Manhattan Project make of this audiobook a must read for autobio afficionados.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen
    Sarasota, FL, United States
    21/08/07
    Overall
    "Surely your egotistical"

    This is the most self centered, egotistical book I've ever encountered. Feynman is one of the best scientists this century and has made significant contributiosns - just read this book and he will tell you just how great he is.

    I forced my way through because I wanted to hear abou the science but by the time I got to the end, I could not stand to hear any more about him...

    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Andrea
    Riverside, CA, United States
    08/09/09
    Overall
    "Poor reading"

    I think I will have to read this book in print. The reader was so bad and overly cute in his presentation that it ruined the book for me. I couldn't finish it, as the reader was so damn annoying. It makes Dr. Feynman sound like a total idiot.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Richard
    Saddle Brook, NJ, USA
    07/02/04
    Overall
    "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Unabridged)"

    I have been in awe of Dr. Feynman even before listening this book. After listening, I am sorry I will never have the opportunity of meeting him. I really could relate to his being a rebel. I am a engineer and somewhat of a rebel but compared to Feynman I have a lot to learn. I loved this book ! I will listen to again soon just for the laughs.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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