Large Print Reviews
"What Do You Care What Other People Think?"
By Richard P. Feynman
Read by Dan Cashman
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - November 11, 2001
"What Do You Care What Other People Think?" was the last book that Richard P. Feynman wrote. He died of cancer in 1988. Feynman was many things, a husband, a musician, and a teacher. But most importantly, Feynman was a physicist. Feynman was born in 1918, and his love of science was fostered by his father's enthusiasm for the natural world and his own wonderment at how things worked. Throughout his long career, Feynman worked in Los Alamos on the Atomic Bomb and developed advanced theories on quantum mechanics. In 1965 he received a Nobel Laureate in Physics for his work in quantum electrodynamics. He also helped to introduced thousands of students to the wonders of Physics, both while teaching at several prestigious universities, and via his public lectures and the numerous books he wrote that were geared to a general readership.
"What Do You Care What Other People Think?" was Feynman's last book, and is more a series of personal essays rather than a comprehensive biography. It includes a series of short essays on his life and his work, excerpts from letters, and concludes with a speech that Feynman once gave, entitled The Value of Science. This book was prepared with the help of Ralph Leighton, who selected the speech used to conclude this book. This is a book that will make you laugh, and it may make you cry. Feynman touches on several high points, and several low points in his life, including how he became a scientist. He also discusses the death of his first wife, Arlene, who died of TB while Feynman was working with Robert Oppenheimer in Los Alamos. A large portion of this book also chronicles his dealings with bureaucrats in Washington, and elsewhere, and his work on the Rogers Commission that investigated the destruction of the space shuttle, Challenger. Feynman, via a simple experiment, proved that the disaster was due to the failure of an O-ring!
This unabridged audio edition of "What Do You Care What Other People Think?" is read by Dan Cashman, who amply conveys the sense of energy and vitality that Feynman exuded when he talked about physics. I was fortunate to have heard Feynman speak several times, and his evangelistic passion for physics was undeniable. In print, as well as when speaking, Feynman had an uncanny knack for making the most complicated principles of physics comprehensible - even for non-scientist. Most significantly, it was impossible to walk away from any of his lectures without acquiring a deeper appreciation for the world around you. This sense of wonderment is extraordinarily captured in this book, and through Cashman's reading.
"What Do You Care What Other People Think?" offers the reader an intimate glimpse into the life, and thinking, of a brilliant physicist. Part biography, part inspirational, this book will enthrall readers of all ages and from all fields of study. If you have not done so already, after reading or listening to this book, you'll want to go back and read Surely You Are Joking Mr. Feynman!, although not technically a prequel to this book, these two books meld so well together that they can almost be viewed as a two-volume set.
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