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A Brief History of Time: 20th Anniversary edition [Hardcover]

Stephen Hawking
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Jun 2008
Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time has become an international publishing phenomenon. Translated into thirty languages, it has sold over ten million copies worldwide and lives on as a science book that continues to captivate and inspire new readers each year. When it was first published in 1988 the ideas discussed in it were at the cutting edge of what was then known about the universe. In the intervening twenty years there have been extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro- and macro-cosmic world. Indeed, during that time cosmology and the theoretical sciences have entered a new golden age . Professor Hawking is one of the major scientists and thinkers to have contributed to this renaissance. This special edition, which marks the twentieth anniversary of the book's original ground-breaking publication is surely destined to become a coveted collectors' item.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press; 20th anniversary Ed edition (3 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593060504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593060506
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 461,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Hawking is Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time which was an international bestseller. His other books for the general reader include A Briefer History of Time, the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universe and The Universe in a Nutshell.

In 1963, Hawking contracted motor neurone disease and was given two years to live. Yet he went on to Cambridge to become a brilliant researcher and Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College. Since 1979 he has held the post of Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Professor Hawking has over a dozen honorary degrees and was awarded the CBE in 1982. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Science. Stephen Hawking is regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein.

Product Description


"Master of the Universe... One scientist's courageous voyage to the frontiers of the Cosmos" (Newsweek)

"This book marries a child's wonder to a genius's intellect. We journey into Hawking's universe, while marvelling at his mind" (The Sunday Times)

"He can explain the complexities of cosmological physics with an engaging combination of clarity and wit... His is a brain of extraordinary power" (Observer)

"To follow such a fine mind as it exposes such great problems is an exciting experience" (The Sunday Times)

"One of the most brilliant scientific minds since Einstein" (Daily Express) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The 20th anniversary edition of Stephen Hawking's scientific masterpiece.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally I can understand 13 Aug 1999
By A Customer
The content is mind bending, the explanations are simple for such complicated issues. I feel that he rambles, and tries too hard to show many sides of the coin at the same time, but without a doubt, the most interesting read I have had for a long time. I would definately recommend it.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for for the layperson of cosmology 23 Oct 2000
By A Customer
A disagree with another reviewer who insists on seeing mathematical formulae. You have missed the point, mathematics is not required for understanding principles only for proving them. I do not believe this would add anything to the content for the lay reader who it was intended for.
The importance of this book cannot be underestimated in its ability to fundamentally shift the common mans (or womans) perceptions of the world around them. You will rarely feel as close to understanding your god (whom or whatsoever it may be) and his work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Time and a word 13 Jan 2014
I recall the stir this book made when it was published in 1988, and had the impression that - owing to its abstruseness - there were many more copies bought than read. I'm not proud to say that, for a brief period, I pretended to be one of those people who had actually read (if not understood) it. Finally reading it now, I was struck by the familiarity of much of the material it discusses: elementary particles and forces, the nature of spacetime, black holes and theories of everything. That the general public have become (somewhat) more familiar with this stuff is, I think, a testimony to the book's popularity, and all the explicatory books and films (e.g. the nice work of Brian Cox) that have followed in its wake over the past thirty-odd years.

As others have previously said, it's written in an easy yet precise style which attempts to convey complicated concepts in cosmology such as the nature of time and the extent of the universe. The author considers the efforts (some of which are his) to connect quantum mechanics to general relativity to produce a unified theory of gravity, and describes his own research on the nature of black holes, including his prediction that quantum effects allow them to emit radiation. The book's not a particularly easy read (especially for those who've remained immune to the charms of science), but the author does his best to engage the general readership. Thus, for example, at one point, he notes that [p82] "a machine that was powerful enough to accelerate particles to the grand unification energy would have to be as big as the Solar System - and would be unlikely to be funded in the present economic climate".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and understandable 9 Oct 2013
By chez198
I have heard many people complain that this book is impossible to read, that you'd need be a physicist to understand it. This is true in some sense as the first few chapters will be a lot more enjoyable if you have a basic knowledge of relativity and QM, but frankly you could attain this by watching youtube videos.

The book itself is truly fascinating. As someone who has read many popular physics books before, I will say the explanations of concepts such as the uncertainty principle and the curvature of spacetime are the easiest to understand that I've ever read. Refreshing. The most interesting chapter is definitely the short but nonetheless intriguing one on string theories near the end - again, a simple explanation of what is an extremely complex idea. In fact, the only parts of this book I struggled at all with were the descriptions of imaginary time and inflationary expansion of the universe.

The only complaint would be that Hawking does venture off occasionally into philosophy, and as someone who loves physics so much, this made some parts a little dull.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult 15 Oct 2011
By L. Davidson VINE VOICE
I've taken an interest in philosophy lately and reading it has led me inexorably to finding out more about science ,which appears to have usurped the role formerly held by philosophers. All of the big questions are now being answered by theoretical physics and biology and for that reason I purchased Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time". This book tries to explain how the universe works and how it has evolved over time. It investigates the quantum realm as well as exploring the consequences of Einstein's theories upon our understanding of the universe. It is all fascinating stuff, but to be honest I found large chunks of the book very difficult to understand. I only have an average GCE O Level in Physics and to make total sense of this book, I would suggest that an A Level or degree in the subject would be required. That said Hawking does try to present simplified,accessible arguments and I was able to get the gist of a lot of what he was saying. For the interested amateur I would recommend an easier introduction to this subject ,rather than delve into this book and get lost. I intend to do that and then reread this excellent book along with Hawking's latest book "The Grand Design" at a later date.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a let down. 31 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's ok I suppose but one thing I was disappointed with is the Kindle edition, it's poor quality
diagrams are a let down. Stephen added these visual aids for a reason and I feel that I missed
out on something.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 2 Dec 2009
This book is the perfect start for those with an interest in the universe. Its not too complicated and easy to get your head round. I have learnt more from this book than any physics classes at school and i am 42. I imagined quantum mechanics as impossible to learn but i now understand what protons, neutrons and electrons really are. Give it a go.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read
This isn't a bad book. It covers much of the physics of astronomy in an accessible way, and the first half of this book is easy to understand. Read more
Published 7 days ago by J. Bowen
5.0 out of 5 stars brief history of time
Brief history of time, couldn,t put it down, it is so interesting, cleverly written and easy to under stand, good.
Published 1 month ago by Ann Flynn
5.0 out of 5 stars bought as a present
I bought this book for my son , who is a reluctant reader,especially fiction,so I thought this might appeal.Hopefully it will.
Published 1 month ago by ailsa salton
5.0 out of 5 stars a difficult subject explained in a clear and concise manner
All the physics I didn't understand explained. Brilliant piece of writing from the man himself. Sometimes a little self adsorbed.
Published 1 month ago by Rhod Scott-Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars hard work
I think I need to read this again (probably more than once) for all the concepts to sink in. However it is written so that a mere engineer can have a chance of grasping some of the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by BenClarke
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
After watching a brief history of mine of channel 4. I felt inspired to read this book. I've never been one for this kind of thing but I'm half way through the book which is well... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Stephanie Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars classic, although I've not read it
This was a gift, I haven't read it myself so it's hard to review! I am unable to think of more words to describe.
Published 2 months ago by face paint
5.0 out of 5 stars great
after seeing the documentary on hawking I bought this book it was great, easily understandable and I had no previous knowledge of this subject
Published 2 months ago by jason
3.0 out of 5 stars Time
I have only given the book 3 (average star mark) as i injured myself and have not been able to finished it yet
Published 3 months ago by William
5.0 out of 5 stars What a mind!
Everything I expected from Stephen. He baffles but not in an overwhelming manner!
What a mind he has and how he has managed with such tremendous obstacles amazes me, his book... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Robbie Sadr
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