Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!

  • by Richard P. Feynman
  • Narrated by Raymond Todd
  • 11 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

With his characteristic eyebrow-raising behavior, Richard P. Feynman once provoked the wife of a Princeton dean to remark, "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" But the many scientific and personal achievements of this Nobel Prize-winning physicist are no laughing matter. In addition to solving the mystery of liquid helium, Feynman has been commissioned to paint a naked female toreador and asked to crack the uncrackable safes guarding the atomic bomb's most critical secrets. He has traded ideas with Einstein and Bohr, discussed gambling odds with Nick the Greek, and accompanied a ballet on the bongo drums. Here, woven with his scintillating views on modern science, Feynman relates the defining moments of his accomplished life.

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What the Critics Say

"A chain reaction is not a bad analogy for Feynman's life. From a critical mass of gray matter it goes off in all directions, producing both heat and light." (Time)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Endlessly interesting

This is a fantastic book, and you urge it to continue as Feynman leads us through his life, from the mundane to the truly extra-ordinary. What really sets this book apart is the complete, unashamed honesty with which he approaches every situation. That one man could have won the Nobel Prize (that "damn" prize), worked on the atomic bomb, become a paid musician and paid artist and given evidence in a trial supporting a strip club just sums up the sort of character Feynman was. Someone who loved life and embraced every opportunity. That enthusiasm comes through in his breathless-at-times writing style and unstructured format, but you really don't care. It's like listening to the world's most interesting person talk in a bar.

The only slight downside is the variable audio quality and the narrator's penchant for doing voices and accents, which can be jarring at times. It certainly doesn't ruin this fantastic book though.
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- Simon

Wish I'd known him!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, I would, particularly to somebody who understood some maths & physics.


What was one of the most memorable moments of Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!?

People thought he was being pretentious because he learned Portuguese when living in Brazil. They set out to tease him by introducing him to a lady who had been brought up in China and greeted him in Chinese. He boldly replied with a bit of nonsense which sounded Chinese and she said "Wouldn't you just know it, I speak Mandarin and he speaks Cantonese?!"


What does Raymond Todd bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I actually have the book, but he makes some wonderful sound effects and noises which you don't get from the printed page.


Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Mainly it made me laugh, but the chapter when he witnessed the first A-bomb test made me sad - particularly when he went on to like, admire and work with Japanese colleagues.


Any additional comments?

If you're not sure and think this might be a bit stuffy and erudite, take a chance on it - you'll be glad you did.

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- Chris

Book Details

  • Release Date: 16-12-1999
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.