Genius

  • by James Gleick
  • Narrated by Dick Estell
  • 20 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the author of the national best seller Chaos comes an outstanding biography of one of the most dazzling and flamboyant scientists of the 20th century that "not only paints a highly attractive portrait of Feynman but also . . . makes for a stimulating adventure in the annals of science." (The New York Times).

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Customer Reviews

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A Biography/Science masterpiece

I expected this book to concentrate more on the life of RPF than it did but I am grateful to be disappointed - the clues were in the title, after all! This book balances the life of Feynman with the scientific environment of the time and the progress of Feynman and his peers in developing their understanding of the quantum world. It is fantastic. The author conveys the feeling that Feynman was around at a time when scientific endeavour and discover was at its peak - an exciting time of debate and competition towards a deeper understanding of a science in its (comparative) infancy.

I have read the autobiographical books of RPF and watched some of his interviews such as the BBC Horizon one (available on YouTube), but these do not fully reveal just what an incredible mind he had. He never lost the child's curiosity to learn about the world around him and had an obsessive desire to develop the mathematical and intuitive abilities required to do so. This is a frank and honest book relating the good and bad in him, and this makes it all the more enjoyable. Newton said, ?If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants? - Feynman took nothing for granted in science and insisted on standing on his own shoulders, and by doing so became one of the most influential and highly regarded scientists of all time.

I highly recommend this book to people who want to learn more about RPF, about the evolution of quantum physics and the people who were pivotal to it and also to anyone curious as to what a Genius really is - This book only emphasises what a much-abused word it has become.

With a constantly active and searching mind, his last words were reported to be 'I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring.'

Excellently narrated.
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- Sara

Genius? Certainly Feynman was, but Gleick...

I was leant this book (I mean the brick of a hardback that you turn pages to access) by a colleague and began reading it a couple of weeks ago, then took advantage of an offer to get the audiobook. I'm still some way from the end, but already there are some serious impediments to my total enjoyment.

First is that Gleick, who clearly knows his subject, knows a lot more than just this subject, and lets us know. A biography is a journey following the stream of its subject's life, and it is right to expect some context from the surrounding landscape--it seems to me that Gleick deviates way too far into the surrounding countryside, often leaving the catchment of the waterway he should be following.

Second, and worst, is that Dick Estell is seriously inappropriate as a narrator of a book so centred on scientific narrative. His reading is stilted and uncomfortable, with studied delivery of every syllable. As if that were not enough, he has is own unique pronunciation of primer. Pythagoras and Descartes.

I'm ploughing on--I have a real and abiding admiration of Ritty Feynman, and despite my wider objections, I'm interested to learn of his career through Los Alamos and Caltech to the Committee of Enquiry into the Challenger disaster. I may update this review later...
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- JEFF

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-02-2011
  • Publisher: Random House Audio