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78 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2005
Richard Feynman was a great physicist, a truly original thinker and for many years a hero of mine.
This book is basically a collection of anecdotes about his life and his worldview. No scientific background is required to enjoy this book - it is fantastic - unremittingly entertaining and informative - accessible to all.
The stories cover, amongst other things: his childhood, his time at Los Alamos working on the atomic bomb (including his safe breaking escapades), failing his medical with the US Army for psychiatric reasons (you will never put your hands out in the same way again), learning Portuguese (and his reasons for selecting Portuguese over Spanish), learning to paint, learning the bongo drums and his general intolerance of stupidity.
Overall it is a fantastic and easy read - it is almost impossible not to enjoy this book
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 23 April 2006
I love this book. I have read it many times and have also given it as a gift to a number of people all who have enjoyed it. To think that it is written by one of the greatest physicists of all time makes it all the more surprising. If there is one person who I would like to go back in time to meet it would be Mr Feynman.

The guy was a genius but also completely down to earth. If you read this book and go away with the impression that he was immodest and big headed like other reviewers felt I would be surprised. This is a man who felt embarressed by winning the Nobel prize, a guy who hated giving lectures at prestigous societies but would never give up a chance to lecture at a high school physics class, who went to Rio to join a Salsa band and march in the carnival, who spent much of his time as Las Alamos annoying the censors and learing how to crack safes. - A curious charater indeed.

All in all if you are interested either a) in physics, b) in interesting people or both read this book. If you want a more in depth but less personal view of Mr Feynman then read James Gleik's Genius.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
I'm delighted to see how many other reviews there are for this fantastic book. For so long, I thought I was one of the few who'd discovered this book, but it seems not. And that's a Good Thing, because I think EVERYONE should read this book.
Yes, Richard Feynman possessed an incredible mind. Yes, he was a brilliant theoretical physicist. But more important than any of that was his lust for life, and thirst for knowledge. And it didn't matter to him what he learned - whether it was safecracking, playing bongo drums, mixing paints, or how to sleep with women!
This book is just Feynman's recollections, as dictated to the author. As a consequence, it's ridiculously easy to read - no highbrow theory or dull prose here.
If you have an ounce of curiosity in your body, buy this book. You will learn a great deal about science, and be fascinated by Feynman's stories. You'll also learn quite a lot about Feynman (and he was a thoroughly entertaining guy!), and most of all, you'll be infected with Feynman's own lust for life and thirst for knowledge.
When you finish it, you'll be sad that you never met this amazing man when he was alive. But console yourself in the knowledge that there's a lot more of Richard Feynman for you to discover in his other books.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 1998
This book is truly rare. You WILL be educated, entertained, baffled, moved, and hopefully inspired to change your whole approach to life. You can not read this book without realising that Feynman was a true original. If you don't enjoy this book, send it to me and I'll eat it without ketchup.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2011
If you are looking for literature and fine writing, forget it. But if you are looking to spend time with an amusing and inspirational man, you can't be wrong. You will get to know more about one of the most brilliant scientists of his time, who was a strong advocate of intellectual honesty. Every science teacher and education policy maker should read this book!!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 13 July 2005
My Mum found this book for me, she's a physics teacher + I'm an undergraduate physics student with a love of books!
I loved it! Who cares if Feynman was egotistic, or a womaniser or, or... well it doesn't matter!
What matters is how he puts across his love of physics and draws you in!
Its an inspiring book, about an amazing and inspiring man!
the title of the first chapter sums it all up. "He fixes radios by thinking."
Its well worth reading, whoever you are!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2011
A book full of fascinating anecdotes, hilarious life stories and insightful scientific scenarios in the every day life of a truly special character.
After having read rather dry and "slow" biographies of other great man such as Benjamin Franklin, John D. Rockefeller, Theodor Roosevelt this book came as a much appreciated refreshment. It's quick, witty and very entertaining!
If you enjoy watching smart men at work and want to find out more about how they think this is the book for you!
You'll discover they're not that different to you and me, just a bit more thoughtful.
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on 14 May 2013
i first stumbled across this terrifically entertaining, funny and thought provoking book back in the 80s. I think I was on a visit to California from London.It was then- and still is- one of my all time favourite books. Why? simply because Richard Feynman was such an amazing and unique character: A Nobel prize winning physicist...a bongo playing strip club loving genius- he wasn't even your stereotypical nerdy looking scientist-in fact the very opposite- he looked like a movie star. He was full of fun and life -always smiling and joking and he didn't care what people thought of him. His stories.. his adventures
were amazing and I remember thinking I wished I knew him. I wished i'd had a brilliant teacher like him.

Every 5 or 10 years or so I'd read something about Feynman by chance but then wouldn't be able to find my copy amongst my huge piles of books that were all over the place- so i'd go and buy another one-.it's always been in print. I must have at least five copies somewhere.I just like to know that it/he is around .. (also I really liked the original blue paperback cover with- I think- red and yellow -even the cover was fun) Finally, it was when i first read 'Surely You're joking Mr Feynman...' that I knew that one day I too would write a book about my own adventures- and many years later I finally did-; so Feynman inspired me too- just like he inspired his students.

Last night I watched `The Fantastic Mr Feynman' on BBC2 and remembered once more how incredible he was..( watching him drop the O ring in the glass of iced water to solve the whole Challenger spaceship disaster) -one of the world's greatest geniuses..and also how much fun he was, all over again. So that's why I'm lying in bed long after midnight writing my first ever review.
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on 20 July 2010
This is, quite simply, a superb book. It gives us a great insight into the curious boy, the shy student, the extroverted graduate, the musician, the artist and the great nobel prize laureate that is Richard P Feynman. His life, a multi threaded vista of experiences, are woven well together in this unputdownable read.

Feynman cuts straight to the heart of the matters that are on his mind, one gets the impression that his father was a big influence in sculpting the inquisitive mind of Dick P from an early age. This is quite evident where Feynman tells us that he hates uniform - its the same man within or without. He has no time for wishy washy science that cuts corners or results in a lack of integrity either to oneself or the profession. He also hated protocols and formalities, he even considered rejecting the nobel prize due to the crap that went with it - all the man wanted to do was share the love of science and meet pretty girls in chic bars.

This is not a highly technical book on the deep matters of quantum electro dynamics or the spin formations of an electron so boffins may be disappointed. What it is, however, is a thoroughly enjoyable read and provides a great panorama over the life and times of one of academia's greatest minds.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2010
Amazing book. I already didn't want it to end, after only being 10-15 pages in. This is already in my top 5 books ever. Very Interesting, as the great Feynmann would say.
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