15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Richard Feynman is my pal,
This review is from: Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) (Paperback)
That's the way it seemed when I read this book. Feynman's authorial voice is friendly, intimate, unassuming, and unique. I found it delightful. The entire book is a gas, fascinating, and educational. Feynman seems like just the kind of guy you'd like to hang out with. He can be a real PITA, but also funny as hell, and always interesting. I really didn't want the book to end (fortunately there are others by him that I haven't read yet). Feynman has a way of thinking that moves into your own brain. I keep catching myself thinking when faced with a problem "Now how would Richard approach this?"
There's not much hard science here but I did get a good sense about some aspects of the sociology and methodology of contemporary physics. Feynman also has interesting ideas about art, music, culture, and people. Some of the anecdotes are historically important, especially the episodes at Los Alamos.
Feynman seems to be painfully honest in places--how many would admit to peccadilloes like spending six nights a week in a strip club--but elsewhere his anecdotes seem confabulated. One description of a philosophical discussion at Princeton when he was a grad student there is absolutely implausible unless Princeton philosophy grad students were a lot worse than I'm sure they were. This is something I know something about. That conversation did not take place the way Feynman describes it. Who cares? (I do a little.) Also Feynman takes a completely gratuitous pot shot at the Cornell philosophy department, which at that time and still today is one of the best in the US.
Feynman is also a bit of a phony, especially in his apparent distain for the Nobel Prize. I guarantee you he would have been mortally crushed if he had not gotten the Nobel (and rightly so!). He's also overbearing toward the end of the book where he discusses "cargo cult science," although the basic point that Feynman is trying to make is deeply important IMO. The thing is the guy's human, very human; he comes across that way--fleshy, a little nerdy, excitable, not always dependable, compulsive, and unpredictable, self-involved, cool sometimes, brilliantly original in an unpretentious way sometimes, and a great story teller.
Reading this book is a wonderful very human experience.