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.
Mr. Mlodinow’s memoir genuinely has something to add, insights that are not to be found elsewhere ... Mr. Mlodinow has produced a vivid and compelling account of Hawking’s character, its many strengths and its occasional deep flaws ... Mr. Mlodinow is very good on the small details of Hawking’s condition ... Its glimpses of Hawking’s personal life are poignant and interesting, but I suspect this book will be read chiefly for its insights into Hawking as a scientist. Mr. 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 ... The great merit of this book is to convey so vividly the dance, the spirit and the prison.
Even before Stephen Hawking died, in 2018, there was an autobiography, two biographies and two biopics. But this curious memoir still feels 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 ... On the personal side, the book is almost uncomfortably fascinating. It unflinchingly describes the physical challenges Hawking faced and the minutiae of his life with his carers ... The physics here is fairly light, but Hawking’s significance is made clear ... The section on belief, which closes the book, is fascinating. Disappointingly, it is one of the only ones in which I felt I really knew the mind of Hawking. For all the anecdotes and conversations, and all the excellent biographical and scientific summaries, Hawking the man feels elusive. Mlodinow clearly knew and liked him, but I finished the book unsure of whether or not I did. For all that, though, this is a compelling read.
As Mlodinow tells the story of their collaboration, he summarizes the scientific ideas they worked on (as well as much of Hawking's other research) in a clear, accessible way, while painting a nuanced portrait of Hawking himself. Readers who are interested in popular science, cosmology or Hawking's work will find much to ponder here, but Mlodinow's book is also a thoughtful, tender yet unsentimental story of an extraordinary friendship.