Book Review: Classic Feynman
Richard Feynman

Cover of Richard Feynman

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Richard Feynman has become somewhat of a folk hero for geeks; a scientist who knew so much about so much as well as being an amazing teacher, and a person who just had so many interests. He was an accomplished drummer (I’ve heard he plays on “Fool In The Rain“, the only Led Zeppelin song I like) and artist, and he always stood up for what he thought was right, regardless. (One of the favorite stories in the book is when a topless bar he used as a second office was going to be closed down due to “standards of the community”, he was the only member of the clientele who testified on the bar’s behalf.)

The book Classic Feynman combines the previously released books Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do YOU Care What Other People Think? , along with a CD of one of his lectures about life at Los Alamos. I picked it up to replace my copy of Surely You’re Joking, as I didn’t have What Do You Care (and the CD was a bonus!). My original plan was to just skip the bits I’d already read… but I ended up reading the entire thing cover to cover. The stories are so absolutely engaging, it’s like visiting an old friend.

The book also includes a huge appendix featuring all of Feynman’s writings on the Challenger disaster. The essays are written in his usual, accessible style, and go over all the problems from the actual, physical problems (the O-Rings), as well as the administrative problems. Pretty much all of Feynman’s work should be required reading, although his Challenger material especially so, particularly for those in managerial positions — not even necessarily those upon which lives depend. Feynman’s ability to write for anyone coupled with his passion to find out as much as he can about everything is a great influence on me and something that should be aspired to by everyone.


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