Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics
Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking was as much of an enigma as the questions he dedicated his career to studying. Diagnosed with motor neurone disease in his 20s, Hawking continued to pursue groundbreaking physics research and translate much of it for a popular audience until his death at age 76 in 2018. Physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking's colleague and co-author on two books (A Briefer History of Time and The Grand Design), shares reflections on his long collaboration with Hawking in his 10th book for adults, Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics.
Mlodinow (Elastic; The Upright Thinkers) combines biographical facts and anecdotes about Hawking with his own first impressions and many later encounters. The majority of the book traces the two scientists' collaboration on The Grand Design, a process that required Mlodinow to spend blocks of time in Cambridge, England, where Hawking lived and worked. With this new window into Hawking's life, Mlodinow was able to observe not only his friend's intellectual activity, but the close, complicated relationships he sustained with his assistant Judith; his multiple caregivers; his second wife, Elaine Mason; and other friends. The two men also forged a connection that went beyond physics, as Mlodinow writes: "What began as an alliance of intellect grew into a connection of our humanity."
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. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams