Hawking Hawking: The Selling of a Scientific Celebrity (Hardcover)
Stephen Hawking was widely recognized as the world's best physicist and even the most brilliant man alive–but what if his true talent was self-promotion?
When Stephen Hawking died, he was widely recognized as the world's best physicist, and even its smartest person.
He was neither.
In Hawking Hawking, science journalist Charles Seife explores how Stephen Hawking came to be thought of as humanity's greatest genius. Hawking spent his career grappling with deep questions in physics, but his renown didn't rest on his science. He was a master of self-promotion, hosting parties for time travelers, declaring victory over problems he had not solved, and wooing billionaires. In a wheelchair and physically dependent on a cadre of devotees, Hawking still managed to captivate the people around him—and use them for his own purposes.
A brilliant exposé and powerful biography, Hawking Hawking uncovers the authentic Hawking buried underneath the fake. It is the story of a man whose brilliance in physics was matched by his genius for building his own myth.
About the Author
Charles Seife is a professor of journalism at NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and has been writing about science and mathematics for nearly three decades. The author of numerous books, including the bestselling Zero, he lives in New York City.
"Veteran science writer Charles Seife’s warts-and-all biography doesn’t hold back from exploring Hawking’s less appealing sides. This is long overdue—not so much because Hawking needs cutting down to size, but because he needs to be rehumanised. ... Hawking’s life is worth celebrating, but if we make it a myth then it becomes just a story onto which we can project our anxieties and fantasies."—Philip Ball, Prospect Magazine
"Seife’s focus is not on Hawking as a powerful scientist but, rather, on Hawking as a dazzling public image, a cultural icon....The outrage this book will generate among Hawking’s admirers will pique the interest of the curious."—Bryce Christensen, Booklist
“[An] engrossing, sometimes unsettling account....The author’s excellent explanation of Hawking’s science makes this a top-notch biography of a significant scientific figure, but Seife also produces a uniquely disturbing portrait of deliberate mythmaking....An unflattering yet outstanding biography of a giant of 20th-century physics.”—Kirkus
"Seife puts Hawking's scientific contributions into context, and looks behind the inspiring yet tragic tale of a genius trapped inside a useless body. A much needed book."—Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Lost in Math