Nick's Reviews > Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman
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Nov 28, 11

Read from November 27 to 28, 2011

One of the problems with reading a book written by a genius is that you have to ask yourself whether any perceived deficiencies in the text are due to the author, or due to your own failure to comprehend his brilliance. That said, I wasn't thrilled by this book. On a purely technical level, it would have benefited from a stronger editor. While there's a rough chronological order to the material, there tends to be a lot of jumping around both within and between the chapters. A few times, Feynman would relate some post-WWII anecdote, only to jump back to something that happened during his time at Los Alamos in the early 1940s. He'll mention that he divorced his second wife, and then shortly thereafter tell a story set during the marriage. It gives the book a very disjointed quality.

On a more personal level, Feynman just doesn't strike me as someone you'd want to spend time with. About 30% of his stories talk about a time he pulled a fast one on somebody, or how he did something arrogant and obnoxious and it developed into an incident. Reading this book feels like babysitting a very rambunctious toddler--as amusing as his antics may be, you're can't help but looking forward to it being over. And while it's perhaps unfair to judge his behavior by modern standards, some of the womanizing and borderline misogyny (as when he decides that the best way to pick up women in bars is to treat them badly and call them whores) is a bit disappointing. Feynman's scientific accomplishments may be beyond reproach, but I doubt I'll spend any more time with his memoirs.
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