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on 8 August 2004
This book is billed as a second, and final, collection of reminiscences from one of the twentieth century's greatest thinkers, the physicist / artist / philosopher / educator / genius, Richard Feynman. This is true; however, it is somewhat different in style to the unsurpassably brilliant "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman?" - surely one of the greatest books ever written - to which this is the sequel.
The first part of the book covers, not in chronological order, some important events from Feynman's life, particularly his early life, that were omitted from "Surely You're Joking". Most especially, it covers his meeting, marriage and subsequent death of his first wife, a tale which is no less moving for being told in his typically matter-of-fact manner.
Fully half the book is taken up with his account of his time spent on the Challenger space shuttle disaster review board, which shows that he was determined to go about accident investigation with exactly the same rigour and method that he applied to all of his pursuits.
If "Surely You're Joking" were a film, "What Do You Care" would be the bonus DVD of extras that came with it. To a certain extent, it's more of what we loved about "Surely You're Joking"; occasionally it throws the main narrative into a different light; sometimes it feels a trifle redundant. For example, why include Feynman's report on the Challenger disaster as an appendix to his own excellent and detailed account of his time working on the same, when it includes no new information? If this were indeed a DVD, it would be criticised for unnecessary reuse of material.
One welcome inclusion is a small collection of illustrations, some showing Feynman at various stages of his career but also some of his own drawings. Again, these latter would have been more relevant had they been included as part of the earlier book.
Still, "What Do You Care" is an easy read and any more wisdom from the author of "Surely You're Joking" is very welcome, however insubstantial.
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on 21 June 2000
The anecdotes from Feynman are, as usual, witty and amusing. However, the second half of the book is taken with his involvement in the Challenger enquiry, and it is gripping stuff.
I highly recommend it, to scientists and laymen alike.
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If you've read 'Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman!', you will love this book too. If you haven't, you could do worse than read this one first!
Richard Feynman was a fantastic scientist. So are lots of people on this world. What set Feynman apart was his lust for life, his childlike, unending enthusiasm for finding things out, and his infectious humour.
As well as getting a taste of Feynman's enthusiasm, you'll also get a real insight into the way NASA worked (works...?), because the second half of this book concentrates on Feynman's involvement in the investigation into the Challenger shuttle disaster. You'll also understand why his wife told him he'd have to get involved in the investigation, because if he didn't, nobody would ever find out what went wrong.
He was a unique and brilliant man, and if you read this, maybe - just maybe - some of that brilliance and enthusiasm will rub off on you too.
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on 11 June 2000
The story of investigation of Challenger gives a good understanding of how does Washington work. All other events mentioned in the book look like piecies which did not fit into the first book "Surelly you are joking Mr Fenman", so the book lacks a "master story". However it does not matter. It is great anyway. WORTH READING.
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on 2 June 2015
"Surely you're joking..." has a sobering undercurrent, though each anecdote (which it is for the most part) exudes the infectious joy of a mind that thought differently. When I first read "What do you care...", it felt like that joyful mind had been suffocated by committee and minds more ordinary. Not as light or infectious as "Surely...", but perhaps the more significant book in terms of the insight into the concept of risk, it's uses and abuses, and also how objective understanding is controlled and manipulated for political (note the small p) ends.
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on 18 January 2005
The sequel to Surely You're Joking, Mr.Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character - this is a book of two parts.
The first part is essentially a continuation of the previous volume - more very entertaining anecdotes.
The second, and in many ways more interesting part, is about Feynman's role in the investigation of the Space Shuttle disaster.
This is a fascinating story - his meetings with NASA engineers and managers tell an interesting story about how management sends you mad and/or makes you stupid. For example, every manager he asked, even though they were all trained as engineers, said there was a zero chance of the shuttle failing catastrophically. Not a position Feynman had a lot of patience with.
Highly recommended
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on 21 October 2015
More superb stories about this one of a kind guy. A substantial section of the book is devoted to his work on the space shuttle disaster which gives an insight into how bureaucracy and politics can lead to such a thing.
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on 22 April 2013
This book is centered around specific events in his life and needs to be read with companion bio's. Having said that, this is an excellent read on its own account. Every now and then a 'special' person is set amongst us and RPF is one of those. A brilliant mind but not one that has lost common sense and the ability to communicate with the ordinary person - especially those who show the same values of honesty and genuineness. I first came accross RPF in a recent TV documentary about the ill fated Challenger mission and the subsequent enquiry. RPF showed and single minded devotion to get to the truth when others around were over influenced by politics and self interest.
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on 14 June 2013
Unlike the other Feynman book I reviewed, this does have a definite storyline that provides an inside view of a number of various events about which we mostly only know the headlines. Two of the most notable of these were the Manhatten Project and the Challenger Investigation.

However, it also shows the matter of fact approach by both Feynman and his first wife to her terminal illness, though unless you have similar strength of character, it won't act as a blueprint in similar circumstances. They were both remarkable people.

I do recommend this book, even though written by a man who was way above the intelligence level of most of us, because he also had the ability to engage lesser mortals by his clarity of explanation.
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on 30 August 2013
I love Richard Feynman.

I'm sure he and I would have had beautiful children.

I think he would have understood me, too.

I'm not sure I'd have understood him - I assume this very interesting account of some parts of his life is heavily dumbed-down for the non-astro physicist. Whoever helped him (or he, if no-one did) did a great job.

I urge you to buy it and read it - a brilliant scientist with a sense of humour!
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