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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 27 February 2014
Well, well, well!
What can I say. Mr. Hawking truly is a remarkable man.
And while I'm not overly educated and got lost mid way when he went into detail of particles, black holes and the universe, I did, from page 1 right to the end, enjoy this read.

It's truly amazing how much of his life is covered in this relatively short book.
From birth, to a childhood of playing with toy trains, moving on and up through the educational system like a rocket.
University life not only as a boy genius but a party boy. Sure didn't expect THAT when I read it. And then ofcourse the unfortunate decline in health and abilities outside of his amazing mind, as his body refused to work correctly for him gradually over the years.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - Just trying to say it is hard enough, without having to live with it.
But LIVE he did and still does. Married twice. Children. And to this day still teaching at the University of Cambridge. Wow.
I simply cannot express just how much I respect this man and how much I loved reading about his life.

** 5 STARS **
Out of this World great read.

Recommended?
YES. And don't worry, its not a hard read if like me you don't know advanced Physics or how he universe really works.
He does talk about it for a about 30 pages and I found myself skim reading that section. That aside, all round great book.
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on 26 June 2015
I did enjoy this brief memoir by Stephen Hawking. However, I would have preferred a lot more mundane detail of Stephen's life. It goes off at a tangent to discussion of the intricacies of space time and deeply intricate conceptions of the universe.
An amazing man who has an amazing brain and sui generis without doubt.
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on 24 May 2017
Fantastic! Couldn't put it down! I strongly recommend it! But then I do love Mr Hawking.
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on 24 July 2017
The book is enjoyable but tends to drift from his own history into too many high tech explanations of his theories. I enjoyed his own personal background history as the best part.
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on 22 August 2015
Brilliant book worth reading it's such a inspiring story
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on 13 April 2017
Addicted ❤
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on 18 September 2013
My Brief History
The tone of this book is immediately obvious from its title. We have had and admired 'A Brief History of Time': and here is a 'Brief History' of the life of the author. Excellently written, as one would expect, interesting, candid and upbeat it tells of triumphs and struggles which few of us experience or are likely to be subject to. A great read, and highly recommended.
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on 12 March 2014
Starts off well - nice, brief passages describing his richly eventful childhood. Its a different time indeed where someone of poor parentage still gets to spend years abroad at a time, have a large house in London, get into Oxford, and never seem to worry about money.

His fast, efficient progression into academia swiftly turns into some ridiculously complex prose - terms, theories and jargon are relentlessly thrown out as if its a private conversation with someone of equal knowledge for such things. I couldn't help but wonder if there was some slight agenda going on here, to purposefully lose the audience and (unnecessarily) prove some intellectual superiority. I tried my best with A Brief History of Time and there were only certain bits I couldn't get my head round. I couldn't understand MOST of what he was writing about here, which was especially undermining and frustrating as it followed something that read like a school essay.

Why is this book annoying? Because it completely avoids the human element - there's no real mention or discussion of struggle, personal challenge, changes of mind, heart or motivation, friendships, love, personal humanistic realisations about mankind or man's relationship to the earth and technology. An autobiography would have been the ideal opportunity to learn about his thoughts and reflections, but instead it just becomes another scientific jargon-purge.

This shift in tone, as well as absence of humanity is so overt and remarkable, that I was left feeling that he might have dissociated a large part of his emotional world. Maybe because of unresolved grief or trauma, maybe a resistance to the press snooping over the years, who knows.

Its astounding that the reasons, and his feelings, behind his first divorce and second marriage are all tied up in literally two lines of text, yet whole chapters are devoted to "Imaginary Time" and "Time Travel" which have absolutely no inherent value to the casual reader, nor anything to say about Stephen Hawking himself.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 November 2013
The physicist has written a simple, short memoir. He grew up in London just after the Second World War ended, having been born in Oxford; the book is illustrated with charming photos of Hawking and his sisters, of blitzed London, of the Oxford rowing team. Hawking's father had grown up poor and got scholarships to train as a doctor, so it was inevitable that his son should be sent the same route. Like many very bright kids he was not an exceptional student at school. While one of his sisters did become a doctor, he concentrated on physics, chemistry and maths. In 1959 he gained a scholarship to Oxford, aged seventeen.

Having graduated Hawking went to Cambridge to become a physics researcher. Cosmology and general relativity had not progressed since the 1930s. Hoyle, Feynman and Sciama were the top people in the field at the time, but Britain was losing researchers in a brain drain to America, where nuclear physics was the trendy field. The student was getting increasingly clumsy, falling on stairs. A doctor just assumed that he was overdoing the beer. After a fall while skating his mother got him to hospital, where a progressive disease was diagnosed. Hawking was only twenty-one and he says that while he was depressed he did not drink heavily as has been reported. He enjoyed working hard for once, hampered by becoming less able to type or write, and was lucky enough to find and marry a student called Jane Wilde in 1965.

Concentrating on cosmology meant the starting point of the universe, black holes and the like were awaiting mathematical proof by the research student, who had ample material for his PhD. From 1970 he was using a basic wheelchair; his wife coped with their three children. A visit to Cal-Tech showed him that America was far more advanced for people with disabilities. In 1985 Hawking had a choking fit at Cern and his wife refused to have his ventilator turned off, getting him flown by air ambulance to Cambridge where a tracheotomy saved his life but removed his speech. An artificial voice system was provided to him by a Californian computer expert.

The further story tells of family issues and coping with his motor neurone disease. There are occasional flashes of humour, such as bets between scientists and asides on life. "My doctor told my wife that I was coming home to die. I have since changed my doctor." The progressive nature of his illness proved too much for both his wives, but Hawkins is pragmatic about the divorces and admits he owes his life to the ladies. 'A Brief History of Time' was intended to explain black holes and the Big Bang to the general reader, without equations. His publisher, Bantam Books, took his suggestion seriously and sent lists of items which he needed to simplify. The book spent 147 weeks on the NYT bestseller list; 237 weeks on the London Times bestseller list. With his daughter Lucy he has also written a series of books for young people. Hawking has won several awards, and helped to host the Paralympic Games in London in 2012. The final photos show some travels, meeting Queen Elizabeth, and experiencing zero gravity. The cover photo of the Oxford years is splendid.

There is discussion of physics in this book of course, but the biographical material is the largest part. Hawking's travels are continuing, because he's booked to be a space tourist. MY BRIEF HISTORY makes an entertaining and inspiring read.
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on 27 September 2013
I was pleasantly surprised how much I have enjoyed reading Hawking. Interesting and understandable,I thought the tone would be overly academic but it is actually very down to earth and engaging. It is a pick up and put down sort of book, you don't have to read great chunks to maintain the flow. Definitely worth giving it a go.
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