Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind

Kitty Ferguson, Author
Kitty Ferguson. Palgrave Macmillan, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-230-34060-2
Reviewed on: 11/14/2011
Release date: 01/03/2012
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Ferguson replaces the iconic but static image of cosmologist Hawking with flesh and blood in this vivid portrait. This is familiar terrain for Ferguson, who built such good rapport with Hawking while researching her book Stephen Hawking: A Quest for a Theory of Everything some 20 years ago, that he asked her to consult on his own book, The Universe in a Nutshell. Hawking grew from a “rather lazy” student to a pioneering cosmologist in an era when the field was regarded as little more than a pseudoscience. Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) early in graduate school, he defeated the odds and will soon celebrate his 70th birthday. Through interviews with Hawking and his colleagues, friends, and family, Ferguson builds a complete picture of Hawking’s life, from his tireless work to explain our universe to his notorious driving, playful appearances on Star Trek, The Simpsons, and other shows, campaigning to improve the lives of the disabled, and his family life, with special attention to his relationship with his first wife, Jane, whose sacrifices allowed him to focus on his work. In the end, Ferguson captures the very full life and work of one of the most vibrant minds of our time. (Jan.)
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