Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics (Hardcover)
An intimate and inspirational exploration of Stephen Hawking—the man, the friend, and the physicist.
One of the most influential physicists of our time, Stephen Hawking touched the lives of millions. Recalling his nearly two decades as Hawking’s collaborator and friends, Leonard Mlodinow brings this complex man into focus in a unique and deeply personal portrayal. We meet Hawking the genius, who pours his mind into uncovering the mysteries of the universe—ultimately formulating a pathbreaking theory of black holes that reignites the discipline of cosmology and paves the way for physicists to investigate the origins of the universe in completely new ways. We meet Hawking the colleague, a man whose illness leaves him able to communicate at only six words per minute but who expends the effort to punctuate his conversations with humor. And we meet Hawking the friend, who can convey volumes with a frown, a smile, or simply a raised eyebrow.
Mlodinow puts us in the room as Hawking indulges his passion for wine and curry; shares his feelings on love, death, and disability; and grapples with deep questions of philosophy and physics. Whether depicting Hawking’s devotion to his work or demonstrating how he would make spur of the moment choices, such as punting on the River Cam (despite the risk the jaunt posed), or spinning tales of Hawking defiantly urinating in the hedges outside a restaurant that doesn’t have a wheelchair accessible toilet, Mlodinow captures his indomitable spirit. This deeply affecting account of a friendship teaches us not just about the nature and practice of physics but also about life and the human capacity to overcome daunting obstacles.
About the Author
LEONARD MLODINOW received his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of California, Berkeley, was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute, and was on the faculty of the California Institute of Technology. His previous books include the best sellers The Grand Design and A Briefer History of Time (both with Stephen Hawking), Subliminal (winner of the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award), and War of the Worldviews (with Deepak Chopra), as well as Elastic, Euclid’s Window, Feynman’s Rainbow, and The Upright Thinkers.
“Mlodinow’s memoir genuinely has something to add, insights that are not to be found elsewhere . . . A vivid and compelling account of Hawking’s character, its many strengths and its occasional deep flaws . . . Mlodinow is very good on the small details of Hawking’s condition . . . Mlodinow understands very well, and can explain very clearly, the twists and turns of Hawking’s physics as it developed from his doctoral thesis to the breakthroughs of his mature years.”
—Ray Monk, The Wall Street Journal
“Tremendously entertaining . . . This affectionate memoir by a friend of the great physicist is a marvel of concision and clarity . . . Mlodinow is himself a theoretical physicist, and—rather unfairly—a brilliant writer to boot.”
—Steven Poole, The Daily Telegraph
“Fascinating . . . Fresh and worthwhile . . . As a serious theoretical physicist who co-wrote two books with Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow saw the great man from a unique vantage point. He can delve into intimate details and survey the intellectual high ground . . . Hawking’s significance is made clear . . . A compelling read.”
—The Sunday Times
“An intimate exploration of the complex man who's groundbreaking work in physics and cosmology left its mark on the science world and beyond.”
—Pittsburgh City Paper
“Leonard Mlodinow has done the impossible. He has skillfully woven together a thoughtful, insightful, intimate, and engaging portrait of Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest minds of our times, while being scrupulously faithful to the physics. Hawking would have been proud of this book. Based on his 15 year association with Hawking, he also answers one of the most puzzling questions asked by the public: How was Hawking consistently able to make breathtaking discoveries in physics while suffering from a paralyzing, debilitating illness that would have crushed any mortal?”
—Michio Kaku, New York Times best-selling author of The Future of Humanity
“Stephen Hawking surpassed science and touched the world with his transcendent genius and heroic courage that inspired millions. In this intimate memoir, his long-time friend and physics collaborator Leonard Mlodinow, one of the finest science writers of our time, shares insights into Hawking that humanizes him while also revealing what made him one of history's greatest minds.”
—Michael Shermer, author of The Believing Brain
“An intimate, unique, and inspiring perspective on the life and work of one of the greatest minds of our time. Filled with insight, humor, and never-before-told stories, it’s a view of Stephen Hawking that few have seen and all will appreciate.”
—James Clear, author of Atomic Habits
“Stephen Hawking was a unique scientist and person, and Leonard Mlodinow's book is a unique glimpse into how he worked and lived. As educational as it is touching, this is a deeply human look at a mind that spanned the cosmos.”
—Sean Carroll, author of Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime
“An illuminating portrait of perseverance and determination. A valuable account of an extraordinary man.”