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Publisher's Summary

This landmark book is for those of us who prefer words to equations; this is the story of the ultimate quest for knowledge, the ongoing search for the secrets at the heart of time and space. Its author, Stephen W. Hawking, is arguably the greatest mind since Einstein. From the vantage point of the wheelchair, where he has spent the last 20 years trapped by Lou Gehrig's disease, Professor Hawking has transformed our view of the universe. A Brief History of Time is Hawking's classic introduction to today's most important scientific ideas about the cosmos. It is read here by the Emmy Award-winning host of The Michael Jackson Show on KABC-TV.

©1988 Stephen W. Hawking (P)2005 Phoenix Books, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A masterful summary of what physicists now think the world is made of and how it got that way." (The Wall Street Journal)
"Lively and provocative, Hawking clearly possesses a natural teacher's gift, easy, good-natured humor, and an ability to illustrate highly complex propositions with analogies plucked from daily life." (The New York Times)

What listeners say about A Brief History of Time

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    4,245
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    1,985
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    701
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    157
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    99
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  • 3 Stars
    511
  • 2 Stars
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  • 1 Stars
    62

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Easily Digestible Presentation of Complex Topics

Content - This is a "pop physics" classic. Fairly complex topics are covered in an entertaining and clear manner. There is a "leap" in the book in moving from the macro to the micro, but this isn't so much a function of the book, but of the science at this point.
Math isn't really needed, but a scientific mindset helps

Adaptation - as it is unabridged, there is little in the way of adaptation. The "voice" of the book is of a "lecture" type which translates well. There are figures in the printed work that help clarify things, but these are few and only minimally impact the experience

Narration - Solid. It is a fairly emotionally even subject and the reader doesn't attempt to "overdress" the text.
I have heard Hawking lectures read by Hawking and, sadly, the mechanical voice can be stressful to listen to at first (you do get used to it), but a professional human reader is easier

68 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Uncommonly good!

As you already know what this book is about, I will tell you how it affected a student with limited mathematical background and none in physics. Well, it was wonderful- this is one of the only audiobooks for which I must abandon all other sources of distraction. Hawking's descriptions and analogies are spot-on for my taste, and I rarely had to re-listen to any of it to grasp the concepts.
The narration is good too. Jackson, thankfully unique from most stoic-sounding professionals, actually gets caught up in what he is reading! I believe that speaks volumes, as it were, about the book itself. Even (and perhaps especially) if you're not a fan of these topics, take this chance to culture yourself with this mind-expanding prize.

45 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, but....

I really enjoyed this book. It helped me better understand many of the great advances in physics, astronomy, and cosmology of the 20th century. The narration was great and included a couple jokes and personal notes about/from the author that lent a human touch to the subject.

As good as the book is, I think it would be a real struggle for those who don?t already have a familiarity with some of the topics. Further, because of the books age some of the ideas are out of date (e.g. the latest evidence is that the universe is not only expanding, but doing so at an ever increasing rate). Nonetheless, the book is worth reading and re-reading (as I?ll do).

64 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

would recommend to anyone

A few people said here that the book was boring because they already knew all the concepts... I couldn't DISagree more. I'm a physics/astrophysics student in my senior year, and know all these concepts like the back of my hand, but this book was still such a pleasure to listen to. Hawking writes in such a way that this book was one of the best I've ever encountered (on these topics), and has the potential to really intreague anyone and everyone. I'd recommend it to anyone!

47 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Elegance

This book dives right in and tells a story that helped me understand how many of the 20th century advances in theoretical physics relate to my world/life.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Worst performance ever

This is the worst, most distracting reading of a book I have encountered on audible. I felt like a paid for a libravox recording. Narrator appears to not have pre-read anything. He Mispronounces both common and technical words, emphasizes the wrong part of sentences, laughs at the authors jokes. Sometimes after making an error in reading a sentences he will repeat the entire sentence, sometimes he doesn’t even bother doing that. Turning pages are clearly audible. For a book written by a disabled person I find it shocking that such a haphazard recording would be made rendering it almost inaccessible to the vision impaired.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, great recording

I'm going through this for a second time a year or so after the first and am loving it. The writing is personal with insight into the creative scientific process. The narrator and sound quality are wonderful: good inflections. The narrator sometimes hesitates on words in a way that makes it sound like he's thinking or recalling, it's delightful.

44 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Find another narrator

Would you try another book from Stephen Hawking and/or Michael Jackson?

While the content from Stephen Hawking is interesting, it's difficult to follow due to the narrator's very strange vocal cadence. Not only is his timing odd, but it sounds as if it's the first time he's glanced at the manuscript, stumbling over words.

49 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Poor narration

It sounded like the narrator was reading through the text for the first time... lots of unnatural pauses in the narration which made some of Hawking’s reasoning even more difficult to follow

6 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Can barely listen

While I expect the underlying book to be pretty good, the narration is so bad that I simply couldn't get through more than about an hour of this recording. The reader clearly has difficulty with scientific terms and pronunciation, but that is something that should be taken care of in production. With randomly quickly-read clauses and terms interspersed with slowly read sentences, it's just too difficult to follow what Dr. Hawking is saying.

45 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew
  • 04-17-06

Fascinating and bewildering.

I have read the book, and thoroughly enjoyed it, however the audio version assists understanding of more complicated hypotheses, by providing the listener with a passive and more comfortable viewpoint.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-17-18

Excellent Book sullied by substandard reading.

I can't praise Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" enough. It succinctly explains scientific concepts in a thoroughly enjoyable manner, and takes the reader (or listener in this case) through the history of physics, and the theories that were accepted in each era.
However the performance of Michael Jackson is substandard. The narration doesn't always flow particularly well, and the narrator often interrupts himself with "ums" and "uhs". On several occasions, Jackson audibly suppresses laughter from a joke make in the book.
I certainly recommend the book - but perhaps consider paper form.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Steven Dalziel
  • 07-17-18

Great insight into a marvellous mind

Stephen Hawking is brilliant and this book provides an insight into his brilliance. The narration however is stilted and detracts from the flow of the book. This is understandable as there is complexity in most of the subject matter.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Chin Scratcher
  • 02-03-16

Seriously?

I thought Hawking was a genius. After this I'm pretty sure that someone will write a book after his death about how he was a fraud with an exceptional grasp of enough physics to silence the few who could see through his fabrications. He could just as well have written a scifi novel as much of this. It's an important work to demote Hawking in your own mind as should be read for that if nothing else.

2 people found this helpful