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Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character as Told to Ralph Leighton Paperback – 19 Nov 1992
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A series of anecdotes, such as are included in Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman, 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 this engagingly eccentric book. 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, a bestseller ever since its initial publication in 1985, simply as a bunch of hilarious yarns with the author as know-it-all hero. At some point, however, attentive readers realise 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 vigour and verve in his no-bull prose. No wonder his students--and readers around the world--adored him. --Wendy Smith
"There are two types of genius. Ordinary geniuses do great things, but they leave you room to believe that you could do the same if only you worked hard enough. Then there are magicians, and you can have no idea how they do it. Feynman was a magician" (Hans Bethe, theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate)
"A storyteller in the tradition of Mark Twain. He proves once again that it is possible to laugh out loud and scratch your head at the same time" (New York Times Book Review)
"Quintessential Feynman - funny, brilliant, bawdy...enormously entertaining" (New Yorker)
"Buzzes with energy, anecdote and life. It almost makes you want to become a physicist" (Science Digest)
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Clearly it's from his point of view, and only covers areas he felt like discussing, so there's very little about his marriage (although there is another book which has more detail on that), and nothing about the Challenger disaster (again, another book).
But the anecdotes are interesting, some are hilarious, and I've managed to get my son to read and enjoy this as well. His time with the Manhattan Project is a particular source of amusement, and his move to Brazil is another rich fountain of anecdotes.
The Big Bang Theory has probably brought his name to the attention of another generation of people.
You've probably got at least 2 series' worth of material in this book.
I'm no native English speaker and I had no problems following it.
I would recommend it to anyone interested (even slightly) in science, but as well to anyone who feels that he/she has to say something in this world.
A beautiful history of a man who always lived his life as he wanted and did it brilliantly!
the short chapters meant that I was constantly reading a new chapter a bit like when watching the next episode of your favorite program.
It will be just as interesting for children as for adults and gives a great insight into how science and the world in general works.
This is one of my favourite books of all time.
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