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Classic Feynman: All the Adventures of a Curious Character

4.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  615 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Classic Feynman Richard Feynman (1918-1988) thrived on outrageous adventures. Now packaged with an hour-long audio CD of the 1978 "Los Alamos from Below" lecture, "Classic Feynman" offers readers a chance to finally hear a great tale in the Nobel Prize-winning physicist's own voice. Full description
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published November 22nd 2005 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1991)
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Tyler Simko
Aug 11, 2012 Tyler Simko rated it it was amazing
In life, it seems that there are two types of geniuses - great minds and great teachers. Many of each type have come along throughout modern history, minds like Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Niels Bohr, and teachers such as Nadia Boulanger, Socrates and Annie Sullivan. Very infrequently, genetics will stumble upon a phenomenal combination that provides both within once person - this was Richard Feynman.

Despite his incredible mind, he also had a knack for explanation and story-telling - a ta
...more
Trevor
Sep 14, 2014 Trevor rated it it was amazing
A collection of life anecdotes from one of history's most over-the-top characters. Classic Feynman is the autobiographical retelling of various vignettes from Feynman's life,. The vignettes themselves are interesting and often hilarious as Feynman is a keen wit and unfailingly curious about the world and its inhabitants. While the stories themselves make for an entertaining read the final essays of the collection elevate the book to required reading. The final story details his time spent as a m ...more
db
Jun 12, 2015 db rated it it was amazing
"There are the rushing waves
mountains of molecules
each stupidly minding its own business
trillions apart
yet forming white surf in unison.

Ages on ages
before any eyes could see
year after year
thunderously pounding the shore as now.
For whom, for what?
On a dead planet
with no life to entertain.

Never at rest
tortured by energy
wasted prodigiously by the sun
poured into space.
A mite makes the sea roar.

Deep in the sea
all molecules repeat
the patterns of one another
till complex new ones are formed.
They make
...more
Jamie Wong
Jun 06, 2013 Jamie Wong rated it it was amazing
This book is incredible, though not for the reasons I had really anticipated.

The portions of the book I really thoroughly enjoyed had nothing to do with physics. The parts I'll remember from this book are his exploits as a lockpick, a safecracker, a figure artist, a bongo player, a prankster, a polyglot, and a traveler. I'll remember his determination in working on only things that interest him, even if they don't appear to be useful (the wobbling plate). I'll remember his hours observing ants f
...more
Ruzan Hovhannisyan
Jan 03, 2016 Ruzan Hovhannisyan rated it it was amazing
Loved it! One of my favorite scientist autobiographies, the interesting stories from Feynman's life, and they show how fascinating a character he was.
Nick
Aug 04, 2015 Nick rated it really liked it
Richard Feynman is just about the closest thing I have to an idol: he was incredibly smart and inventive, but was always open to trying new things and just a fun guy to hang out with. Reading this book hasn't really changed my view of the man much. The only tarnish is that in his younger years, he could be kind of an asshole with his (in)famous pranks, and often comes across as uncomfortably sexist (I guess it was the '50s, though).

This is a fairly accessible book, though if you don't understand
...more
Matthew Zhang
Jul 17, 2014 Matthew Zhang rated it it was amazing
Richard Feynman is da shit. The end.
Kevin
Jan 16, 2011 Kevin rated it it was amazing
Classic Feynman is a collection of stories, lectures, and anecdotes taken from his two most popular books, Surely Your Joking and What Do You Care What Other People Think to form an entertaining autobiography of this endlessly fascinating and fiercely independent man. The book is divided into two distinct parts. The first and largest chunk of the book is dedicated to Feynman's childhood, time as a student, his work at Los Alamos, his adventures in Brazil and Japan, and his time as a professor at ...more
Tyler
Jun 13, 2009 Tyler rated it it was amazing
There are certain books which, if read at the correct time in a person's development, can drastically alter their life for the better. This is the best example of such a book.

Feynman's stories distill a lifetime of lessons into a light-hearted, pleasantly disjoint narrative. Each chapter is a separate story, but Feynman's life is so intensely interesting that it will keep you glued to this book until the very end.

Feynman was a brilliant and incredibly luck individual. Many of the stories in this
...more
Daniel Halperin
Mar 02, 2016 Daniel Halperin rated it really liked it
I didn't know much about Feynman before I read this book. Transcribed interviews and speeches and writings tell a fascinating story and the book is hilarious and full of personality.

One drawback: I was hit in the head again and again by the typical sexism and bias of a scientist and American of his eras, more overt than the same today. The mad men of it got a little tiring sometimes, but I still recommend.
Caroline
Jul 22, 2009 Caroline rated it really liked it
I find Feynman irresistible. He's got a clear worldview that he likes to question and explore, using the imaginary audience as a platform. Plus, his stories are just wacked out crazyville. For instance, Feynman worked at Los Alamos on the nuclear bomb, but that's not at all the focus of his story: rather, the coded letters his dying wife sent, and his growing safecracking/lockpicking skills while at the secure facility are his emphasis.

And that's just the tip of the Feynman iceberg. This set of
...more
Tarafina
Feb 22, 2011 Tarafina rated it it was amazing
I actually had this book read to me by someone who truly appreciates Feynman; it was a treat! It also came with a disc, so I could plug Feynman's stories into my car and get a whole spectrum of auditory experience.

This was one of the great men of history, IMHO, an obvious genius, but a humble one. I love that he taught himself to draw. I love that he loved his wife more than anything, and that when she became ill, they sent each other encrypted messages and love notes and puzzles to each other.
...more
Allison
Jun 03, 2014 Allison rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I am a huge Feynman fan now. Thanks Sonny. I like to imagine him playing the bongos… Feynman, I mean. And refusing to go collect his Nobel prize.
Wilson Lanue
Jul 08, 2012 Wilson Lanue rated it it was amazing
Here are all the anecdotes previously published in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think?, rearranged into chronological order.

As such, it's a great read, but given a choice I'll take them in the order of first printing. The advantage here, though, is the included CD of Feynman telling some of his grand Los Alamos stories for himself.
Rebekah Thomas
Apr 12, 2015 Rebekah Thomas marked it as to-read
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Me not finishing this book is in NO WAY Richard Feynman's fault. This book is a collection of his essays, set in chronological order, and he's fascinating. Definitely one of my favorite-of-life scientists (besides Neil deGrasse Tyson, who's my secret boyfriend. Secret because he has no idea I'm alive) - teaching this year has just made my brain tired and capable (barely) of following Netflix sitcom reruns only (MASH, Friends and 3rd Rock from the Sun lately). So. I'll be back when my attention s ...more
Wayne
Mar 10, 2009 Wayne rated it liked it
I could just have easily given this book four stars. It reads like a transcript of a lecture, which in many cases it probably is.

Many parts were fascinating, but I could have done w/out some of the chapters. However he comes across as an intellectually honest author, with a willingness to give you access to his raw emotions and hunger to learn everything about everything. If a person is the sum of his experiences, then you can argue that nothing in the book was superfluous.
stephanie borris
May 03, 2009 stephanie borris rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008, memoir
I knew nothing about Richard Feynman before reading this book. For the newbie like me, Classic Feynman provided a wonderful glimpse into the life of this hilarious scientist. This collection of stories did seem to drag on at times, but I enjoyed Feynman's stories so much. He is a natural storyteller. I wish an audiobook version existed so I could hear Feynman recount these adventures himself.

Worth reading. You do not have to know/enjoy physics to love Feynman.
John Orman
Nov 23, 2013 John Orman rated it it was amazing
The brilliant Richard Feynman was many people in one--scientist, teacher, writer, bongo player, raconteur, and safecracker. But mainly he is known to the public as a great storyteller.

This book collects several of Feynman's published volumes of wit and wisdom, as well as a CD of his presentation of atomic bomb adventures to a live audience in 1978. The printed stories are wonderful, but the audio presentation really highlights Feynman's high-flying spirit.
BRANDON
Jul 14, 2014 BRANDON rated it it was amazing
Great book. Basically is a nice collection of all the little smaller popular Richard Feynman books, all in one nice hardcover. I kiss it sometimes. It also contains some new material. Absolutely love it. See my reviews of the books contained within separately which I also own.
Bobbie
Jun 18, 2016 Bobbie rated it liked it
In my (very humble) opinion, Feynman ranks right up there with Einstein and Oppenheimer. Calling him an interesting person is a gross understatement. It's unfortunate that it took an episode of "The Big Bang Theory" to bring him to my attention--not that I don't like the show (it's one of the few TV shows I look forward to)--but I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I'd never heard of this splendid individual before.
Kate
Nov 23, 2008 Kate rated it liked it
Had to return to the library before I finished, but really good! Very humorous -- laugh out loud at a couple points --basically delivered as (edited)transcripts of Feynman talking, so a little overlap in some story lines here & there, but overall very entertaining anecdotes from a brilliant mind. He stays fairly well balanced between self deprecating humor and knowing he is in fact very intelligent.
Brian
Jun 30, 2010 Brian rated it really liked it
I don't care what Freeman Dyson says; Feynman has to be making half this shit up. But you can't make up working at Los Alamos or unraveling the Challenger disaster. And even if Feynman has exaggerated a little for the sake of good storytelling, it's still damn good storytelling, and legitimate insight into a strange, playful mind that most of us in the math and sciences have profound respect for. Bravo.
Holly
May 01, 2016 Holly rated it it was amazing
Particularly appreciated the chapters about his experience on the committee investigating the NASA Challenger disaster and the early death of his young first wife.
Kylee
Jun 24, 2014 Kylee rated it it was amazing
I was inspired, as an engineer and a curious person who often ponders things I think I have no business concerning myself with. I am more likely going to let myself just figure things out, and learn. I might learn real Japanese or fake Italian, I might learn how to pick locks or decide to no longer make decisions about my dessert. Whatever it is, it will crazy and rewarding.
Michelle
Jul 15, 2008 Michelle rated it really liked it
I've been curious about Feynman since seeing a movie about him and his first wife, during his work on the atom bomb in New Mexico. Great stories, all taken from Feynman lectures. He's very bright and sometimes a little full of himself, but lived a very full life and is a great storyteller, and was behind the scenes of some of the big scientific events of the past 50 years.
Annette
Dec 17, 2010 Annette rated it liked it
Such an interesting man. He was truly an eccentric genius. Some of his stories were over my head with the information, but I kept wishing I would have liked to meet him in passing. Been a part of one of his adventures. And his thirst for the new and the interesting ignites many imaginations. Oh that physics had been this interesting.
Miguel
Jan 09, 2012 Miguel rated it it was amazing
Fascinating book / biography of Feynman. This is the 2nd (or 3rd) book I've read on him and this seems to be the most complete. Especially enjoyed the section on his investigation into the NASA Challenger explosion. Key lessons learned from this book: 1) keep your "bend over backwards" integrity, and 2) to doubt is a great gift.
Nicole
Jun 17, 2013 Nicole rated it it was amazing
I had started this book many years ago, but shelved it for reasons I cannot remember. As another reviewer pointed out, there's something about the right book at the right time. This time, Feynman's story was personally revelatory and revolutionary. Read when you're burning to see the world differently--and rejoice and marvel at it.
Melody
Sep 15, 2007 Melody rated it really liked it
Classics from Feynman's earlier autobiographical works arranged in roughly chronological order. A bonus CD of some of the source material is included, and is well worth the price of admission. Feynman was hilarious to listen to, a born raconteur. Fun collection that's light on the science and heavy on the anecdotes. Recommended.
Toby Decker
Wonderful collection of stories on a variety of topics from a common sense genius. A teacher, and brilliant physicist, he uses wit and insight to explain Physics in ways that non-Physics students will quickly grasp.

Merged review:

Fascinating bio/account of a genius who could make the complex understandable.
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1429989
Richard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as work in particle physics (he proposed the parton model). For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman was a joint recipient of the Nobel Pr ...more
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