This book is a “sorted merge” of the contents of two earlier books, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think?, accompanied by a commemorative audio CD of Feynman himself.
I read one of the original books years ago, so some of the tales weren’t brand new to me, but they lose nothing in being read for the second time. The tales originally from the other book were just as intriguing and charming as the others, and I’m sure will bear re-reading just as well.
The CD is from an original recording of Feynman telling some of the stories about Los Alamos that are found in the book. Hearing Feynman’s accent — sounding more like a plumber from Brooklyn than a Nobel Laureate in physics — and rapid-fire delivery is worth the price of admission all by itself. Editor Ralph Leighton has done a splendid job of transcribing verbally-transmitted stories to the very different medium of the printed word. His very occasional footnotes are never obtrusive and always illuminating.
Feynman reveals himself as a complicated character, driven by insatiable curiosity and joy in figuring out how the world works, but unwilling to limit himself only to the study of the physics he so enriched. He digressed into biology, was an avid drummer, studied sketching (the sketches reproduced in the book seem nearly professional to the eyes of your artistically inexpert reviewer), and appears to have possessed a great deal of insight into the human character.
I will say about this book the best thing I can say about any book: I wish it had been longer.