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on 2 March 2017
no problems
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on 15 August 2014
Really worthwhile read - at least twice!
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on 29 March 2017
excellent
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on 7 September 2017
Just what I needed
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on 13 December 2014
I've not read this yet. I have read 'A Brief History of Time', but some of the theoretical stuff was a bit confusing. I'm hoping the 'idiot's guide' will help.
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on 15 September 2006
The first time I read this book I was left feeling dissapointed. However after re-reading certain sections of the book a few times, the ideas become easier to grasp and really blow your mind when you realise what they mean. Anyone who would like to know what the theory of relatively is, have an idea of the classical views on the universe, or a little about quantum mechanics without studying them in great detail should consider reading this book. It is a very rewarding read.
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on 28 December 2016
This book has the capacity to amaze – on two levels. First, at the complexity and elegance of the universe; secondly, at man's confidence over centuries, always thinking that his latest set of theories has given him almost complete understanding of our amazing universe.

New readings and new theories over the last fifty years or so have taken this always changing almost complete understanding beyond the reach of the ordinary man. Here, a valiant attempt is made to simplify matters by using examples of moving trains and bouncing balls, but the basic concepts are difficult. Particularly when there is still so much we don't know, about infinity and relativity, the shape of time and space, the basic components of the universe – and their behaviour.

And of course, all current theories are based on measurements and extrapolations taken over a mere few decades in our one tiny corner of the universe. But that doesn't dent the confidence of the authors, who reckon we have an almost complete understanding of the universe and our place in it. Just like Newton, Galileo, Aristotle and the rest.

If you want to know about strings, waves, particles, black holes and the rest, this will certainly help. Or you could read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where the answer to the ultimate question is much more simple – if somewhat enigmatic.
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on 7 September 2017
This book was, for me, fairly interesting but ultimately disappointing. Though I respect the sciences and the important work of physicists, I cannot help but feel that this attempt to explain this work to the 'average reader' has been slightly misjudged. That is not to say that, for the most part, the book or its explanations are unhelpful or uninteresting, but that they could be more helpful and interesting with a little more consideration.

For instance, I found the book's prose not only to be a somewhat inelegant, but, with occasional jumps and half-finished metaphors and allusions, to tend to get in the way of its explanations. Similarly, and not withstanding the title, those explanations themselves sometimes felt rushed and half-formed - the discussion of string theory felt particularly squashed and unintegrated. Most specifically, I found the book's regular mention of 'God' (as an 'He'), and the misjudged and casually sexist visual explanation of gravitational attraction outright annoying.

Perhaps I am not the intended audience, perhaps my initial knowledge was a little further advanced than that of the ideal reader (though, only by a vague interest in sciences as informed by the general media and the occasional popular science magazine or web search); certainly, I am looking for a more literary and elegantly postulated discussion and explanation of ideas.

As such, I find it difficult to judge this book. I think it is safe to say that I do understand, at least in broad terms, a fraction more of the book's subjects than I did at the outset, but I think that the following is revealing: what I found most interesting was the discussion not of the theories and their implications, but of the historical progression from one theory to the next, and learning that sometimes an older theory might be used in calculations for the sake of simplicity.

So. Mixed feelings.
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on 13 September 2007
I don't agree with Ken at all. OK so the book is short, but do all books have to be 500 page blockbusters? It is printed with large print and wide (not double) spacing, making it a joy to read. The 'illustrations' are incredible full colour graphics. The graphic showing the earth spiraling into the sun might, perhaps, have been left out, but most other graphics are far from trivial and really add to the text. For instance, the electron interference graphic/picture will make you think you've been teleported to CERN.

Kemp's review is much fairer. I have a physics degree and read through this book quickly, without having to re-read anything. OK, you might say, you have a physics degree. But I stumble in other 'popular' books - I'm having to reread(even rewrite!) Polkinghorne's 'very short introduction to Quantum Physics' to get anywhere at all!

I would have no hesitation in buying this book as a great Xmas present for a 14 or 70 year old who wanted to know something about physics.
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on 2 October 2017
A Briefer History of Time is a discussion of the physical forces that make up the universe, including how the universe began, the relationship between time and space and the historical development of the understanding of the subject, including the theories of Newton, Einstein and other important physicists. This is a fascinating subject although very complex and technical so by no means easy to explain. While the language used is generally simple and clear, I feel that a much better job could have been done at explaining many of the concepts in an attempt to make them more understandable to a lay person, which is stated to be the purpose of the book. In addition, while the illustrated hardback volume looks nice, the illustrations are overly simplistic and not useful in helping understand the concepts.
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