Thursday, 2 August 2001

Stephen Hawking: A Brief History of Time (1988)

Edition: Bantam, 1998 (revised tenth anniversary edition)
Review number: 892

It is difficult, from the contents of A Brief History of Time, to see how it managed, famously, to become the least read bestseller of the twentieth century. The answer, of course, is the romance of Hawking's life and the way in which he was able to overcome his disability.

The book itself, in this revised edition marking the tenth anniversary of the original publication, is a clear account of modern cosmology from one of the subject's leading researchers. To anyone who has read this sort of thing before, it contains no particularly difficult concepts, and its style is simple and generally easy to follow (with occasional lapses into more technical language). Hawking's involvement in many of the advances in the field lends his writing a particular authority, and even those who read a lot of popular science will find this classic a useful summary, more or less up to date. (The current research into neutrino violations of the Standard Model is the main development to have taken place since publication.)

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