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The Illustrated A Brief History of Time

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,340 ratings  ·  119 reviews
In the years since its publication in 1988, Stephen Hawking's A Brief History Of Time has established itself as a landmark volume in scientific writing. It has become an international publishing phenomenon, translated into forty languages and selling over nine million copies. The book was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the nature of the universe, but sinc ...more
Hardcover, updated & expanded, 256 pages
Published November 1st 1996 by Bantam Books
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  1,340 ratings  ·  119 reviews


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André Oliveira
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Mind-bending!
Joel
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Covers a LOT of material very quickly. His writing style is very readable, but only because he doesn't allow himself to get drawn into complex explanations for the very difficult concepts. Overall, it's a great introduction if you want a general overview of some of the deepest issues of modern cosmology.
Kerri
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ehrtbm-2018
This is a highly interesting book, even with only a vague understanding of the very, very basics of physics (such as "yes, there are such things as Newton's Laws". We are talking Basic.) Hawking speaks in a very conversational way and manages to make the ideas he talks about approachable. I could nod along and say, "that sounds reasonable" or "that is really interesting" as long as I did not think about it too hard. Once I started thinking about it, it would make my brain bend uncomfortably. And ...more
Natalia
May 26, 2020 rated it liked it
I hate to give this book such an underwhelming rating, but hear me out:
So I received this book 15 years ago, when I was a teenager, as a gift. Since then I started reading this book literally dozens of times. I wanted to understand it, but I didn't. "Not yet", I thought. "I'll become more knowledgeable about physics and then progress step by step." But by now I have a somewhat decent understanding of physics (at least for someone who studied economics at uni) and I decided to go ahead and figure
...more
Greg
Aug 03, 2008 rated it liked it
I read the Illustrated Brief History of Time because I was hoping it would have helpful visual depictions of the complex theories and concepts that Hawking describes - and it did.

Overall, this book was pretty good, but I guess the biggest problem I had with it was that Hawking never really came out and declared which of the current theories he most subscribes to. He does a great job presenting a mostly unbiased view on the differing theories, but doesn't take a stance on which he thinks is the b
...more
Dustin Crazy little brown owl
Nov 23, 2014 marked it as started-but-put-aside
Shelves: non-fiction
I love books with pictures!
Sharon Mogg
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
There have been a few poor reviews for this book where readers think it's impossible to enjoy/appreciate this book without being the most senior of post-docs in the discipline of physics. I'm not going to pretend that I can even slightly begin to grasp string theory, however I strongly disagree with these opinions! Perhaps the most elementary understanding of forces and quantum mechanics would be helpful to somewhat comprehend the jargon and seemingly convoluted topics mentioned in this book, bu ...more
Matthieu
Dec 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Along with The Elegant Universe, this book launched me into the world of astrophysics/cosmology. I first read it at age 12 and have since re-read it at age 15. The memories of both readings remain vivid in my mind.
Justbreathe
Jul 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing. Some parts a little difficult to wrap my head around, but 95% of the time, easy to understand and AMAZING.
Michael
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Still a startling exegesis of what we know about the universe and how we know it. Amazingly readable, especially in this illustrated edition.
Surfdaweb
Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-nerd
As someone who is a bit of a hobbyist when is comes to astronomy and astrophysics, I was worried that this book originally published a few decades ago would be a bit... out of date. But to my surprise, it's actually a great read both from an entertainment and an educational perspective. And while a lot of the pictures were superfluous, many of the diagrams really helped to visualize some really complicated stuff. I was also humbled by some of the cool facts I learned, so I definitely recommend t ...more
Simon Jewell
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Beautifully illustrated and wonderfully clear and witty introduction to Hawking's lifetime interests.
Beth
Sep 20, 2020 rated it liked it
I read this book like I read my Greek texts -- I make sure I understand everything as I go along, but I'm aware that I shall forget at least 80% a few minutes after I close the book. Maybe I'll retain the gossip in the short biographies in the back... but probably not.

Still, it's fun to walk along as Hawking explains things so I feel like I was there when we were puzzling at the foundations of the universe. I remember reading this when it first came out and being much more confident in my unders
...more
Aaron
Dec 01, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical-science
Hawking wrote in the introduction that he's sold more books about science than Madonna has sold on Sex. I don't doubt that. The both sell for the same reason: good promotion and and a curious audience (and now, both with flashy pictures).

This book is somewhat disappointing as it aims to bring very abstract, perhaps esoteric, science about astronomy and physics to the general public. The graphics look really cool, but I don't think they justify the nearly $50 price tag. Furthermore, the writing
...more
Andrew
Nov 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
I'd previously picked up A Brief History of Time earlier in life, but never made it all the way through. But with a renewed interest in astronomy, I was compelled to give it another go. By happy accident, I ended up with the illustrated version from the library instead of the original. And I would recommend the illustrated version to anyone, because it really does make the more challenging concepts in the book easier to visualize. The scope of the book is amazingly broad, and I'll be amazed if I ...more
Augusto Delgado
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everybody
Shelves: science
Have got this fancy book for a while. It is a gorgeously edited tome, with glossy pages and filled with multicoloured illustrations that follow, expand and clarify Dr. Hawking's narrative.

The reading difficulty was led on getting lost in the full colour depicted illustrations and photographs (being my favourite fig 8.2 spread across pages 148 and 149, which explains the Big bang model) and trying to avoid putting yours truly filthy hands on such a lovely book; until I happen to watch a certain D
...more
Patrick
Jul 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this book twice, if you decide to read it at all. Also, you should definitely read the ILLUSTRATED version, if you can.

This book is fascinating, but has the capacity to be absolutely mind-bending. It deals with subjects such as multiple dimensions (that is, beyond the common four: length, width, height, and time), theoretical ideas about space, time, wormholes and time travel, and the lives of molecules smaller than those normally considered in science class, and some that only exist in neg
...more
Kat
Feb 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good book. Stephen Hawking does an amazing job keeping the ideas of physics simplified for non-physicists. I will warn you though, this is not a book to read when you're tired. It does require processing. But not to worry, it starts out simply and becomes more complex as the book goes on, so you can ease your way in.

The book is basically about how our ideas about what the universe looks and acts like has evolved from believing that our world was flat, supported by tortoises and everything
...more
Jeffrey
Jun 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-math
OK, so not an easy read. But why do have so many read it? That's the bigger question, huh? Hawking was amazed by the number of poeple who wanted to know about worm holes, black holes, relativity, particle spin, and so on. Why have so many read this book and its follow ups? Hell, you're human, you should know. Hawking says that two theories explain existence, relativity and quantum theory. These mathematical systems work OK on their own, however, when you combine the maths you get a lot of proble ...more
Tyler
Dec 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Synopsis: This book covers complex topics that are typically discussed in college courses on Modern Physics (such as the course I took at the University of Utah). The famous physicist Stephen Hawking, who suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), has a knack for explaining difficult topics in a way that the general population can understand (or at least grasp an idea of the concept). Topics covered in the book include Galileo and gravity, Newtonian physics, Maxwell's equations (which govern the s ...more
Chad
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
It is what the title says... This book explores modern physics (up to the point it was written) in a way that may be a bit easier for the common person to understand some of the content is still fairly complex and needs a bit of focus to grasp, but generally follows the history of physics and how it describes the universe.

I thought the book was fairly well written and did a good job explaining the topic. However, it left some of the subject matter seeming as if it were a best guess without a de
...more
Julie Bell
May 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This is WAY over my head. However, I did enjoy what it prompted me to contemplate. I decided to read it because I just read 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' and the author makes several references. Reading this, allowed me to appreciate 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' even more. I also became interested because Steven Hawking makes guest apearances on the Simpsons to cheer Lisa up when she's feeling down.

Bottom line, it is humbling to think about how little I know about the nature of
...more
Sarah
Much easier to read than Kip Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps, but I found that it was helpful I was already familiar with most of the concepts and characters. This had been on my to-read list for a while but after watching Hawking's biopic-ish The Theory of Everything last week I decided to put it off no longer, and I was able to blow through pretty quickly. Not only is Stephen Hawking one of the most brilliant and well-known theoretical physicists and cosmologists of our time, he's a decent ...more
Terry
Apr 13, 2008 rated it liked it
The illustrated version is a big help in understanding some of the concepts that Hawking's bring forth in the book. Hawking's himself does a good job of explaining the the different aspects of physics but it is still hard to grasp a lot of the things he talks about. Don't expect to walk away from this book understanding everything in physics. The material is way too dense and a lot of the concept are by definition not visible to humans (eg. more than 3 space dimensions). Overall though the book ...more
Michael
Jun 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
I really doubt that reading this book without any prior exposure to general relativity or quantum mechanics will give anyone a good understanding of the subjects. Hawking doesn't lay the groundwork well enough for you to really "get it." On the other hand, if you're already well acquainted with modern physics at least in a conceptual (if not a rigorously mathematical) sense, you probably won't be able to glean much new insight from this book. Hawking's analogies often fall flat, and it seems lik ...more
Kimberly Schlarman
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
My AP Physics class was so boring. It was mostly word problems that eventually broke down to v=d/t over and over and over again.

This would have been a better classroom text. Maybe it’s easier for high school students to stick with Newtonian physics but I would have been more invested in the class if I had known that all those equations eventually lead to black holes, expanding universes, and that gravity isn’t real! (ok, ok, it’s real but is influenced by spacetime curvature--why did we never l
...more
Odyssey
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popular-science
Many reviews describe this as a must own book...but never finished one.
I am glad to say that i have finished the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can see however that it can be quite a dense read at times. In some instances it feels like using an equation or two, or even just scientific notation would have helped to explain the matter more clearly, in its absense however the illustrations do provide a very much needed visual aid, and i honestly would recomend paying a little more to get the ill
...more
Michael
It's been a couple of months since I read this book, but it was quite a comfort, maybe more a distraction, during some rough days. Hawking's universe is explained in such straightforward terms, but without any condescension. He makes physics really enjoyable, and the illustrations certainly help make some aspects of the field more understandable.

Ironically, the concept that's left the most foggy for me is that of time and its relativity. Hawking doesn't always explain everything in full and ask
...more
Heather
Well, now I know. I read this as an introduction to Physics, being I've never studied the subject. I also wanted to get a better understanding of the science behind LOST and Sawyer recommends it. And I was curious to know why the Robulans had to wait so long for Spock to come through the wormhole in the new Trek. I was able to hang with Hawkings on almost all of the theories, but I found that it's still to early for them to KNOW what they are theorizing about. Don't ask me to do a book report on ...more
Ross
Dec 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-physics
The book provides a rather concise review of the major theories of physics and considers some of the more philosophical elements as well. I found the presentation to be rather too high level to be of any real use - most of the content has been covered many times in other books that delve into the details to the next level.

Secondly, the book is rather lazy in some respects, with concepts that are introduced, but never properly explained. There is a bit of a pompous tone that Stephen Hawking can t
...more
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Stephen William Hawking was born on 8 January 1942 in Oxford, England. His parents' house was in north London, but during the second world war Oxford was considered a safer place to have babies. When he was eight, his family moved to St Albans, a town about 20 miles north of London. At eleven Stephen went to St Albans School, and then on to University College, Oxford, his father's old college. Ste ...more

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