Customer Reviews for

The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom

Average Rating 4
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 6 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 1
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2009

    A thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening biography of one of the greatest minds in physics

    While there are no equations and any theoretical concept is clearly explained in simple English, I don't think anyone who hasn't studied quantum mechanics will fully appreciate this book. This book brings to life and puts a human face on Dirac as well as Schroedinger, Bohr, Heissenberg, Einstein and the rest of the pantheon of 20th century theoretical physicists. For me, until I read this book, Dirac was only a name associated with a bunch of abstruse mathematical equations. I am indebted to Farmelo for introducing me to the Dirac who took long walks; who had trouble with his digestion; who was adored ( to excess ) by his mother; who was distant from his father and so on.

    From the vantage point of 2009, his predictions are taken for granted. While Farmelo writes of Dirac's worries and insecurities concerning some of the consequences of the equation that bears his name, I was screaming "positrons, gentlemen" at the book.

    The actions and concerns of Dirac before, during and immediately after WWII drove home the fact that Paul Dirac was a real human with worries about his friends and family as well as an unmatched theoretical physicist.

    For anyone with a scientific bent this book is a must read for experiencing the excitement of the development of quantum mechanics while learning to appreciate how much sweat was needed to write those equations.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 5, 2009

    If you know why Dirac is famous, you'll love this book

    A nicely written and surprisingly revealing biography of a notoriously uncommunicative man. Dirac's discoveries are particularly well-known among physicists for an uncanny originality, almost as though they had been communicated to Earth by a benificent extraterrestrial, and Dirac's reluctance to enter into conversation has always made the nature of his thought and personality particularly impenetrable. The author is particularly brave, and fair, in discussing the question of whether Dirac had Asperger's syndrome.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 14, 2010

    A Life

    The biography of P. A. M. Dirac is compelling; beautifully written!
    Dirac was as contemporary of Albert Einstein, and his science and his life story share elements in common with that of Einstein.
    Yet there are hundreds of Einstein biographies, to my knowledge, this is a first for Dirac. While Einstein reveled in the glare of the press, Dirac shunned it.
    Both won the Nobel Prize in physics, Dirac for his pioneering role in quantum mechanics, his equation for the electron, his discovery of the positron, and his mathematics. His book Principles of Quantum Mechanics (1930) is still the bible in the subject.
    On top of this he pioneered quantum electrodynamics.
    While both protected their privacy, Dirac avoided statements to the press, and avoided the limelight going along with fame.
    His story is compelling: an abusive father, his reaction to a horrible childhood, a hate-filled home, the suicide of his brother. If anyone outside science knows anything about the private Paul Dirac, they are likely to know that he was a man of few words, answering questions with yes, no; or more likely "I don't know!"
    Perhaps Dirac felt that nature and science is expressed in the language of mathematics, and that words by comparison tend to be empty.
    And Dirac often argued that the more profound insight is more likely to be uncovered in a beautiful mathematical equation; as opposed to hard experiments!
    The author Farmelo (his earlier book It Must Be Beautiful) seems to be born to tell the story of Dirac. It is compelling, and the characters are brought to light, each in a portrait that makes them real: other scientists, Heisenberg, Bohr, and especially his lifelong friend and experimental physicist Peter Kapitza from the Soviet Union; later Nobel for his discovery of superfluidity of liquid helium.
    And his wife, the sister of the Princeton physicist Eugene Wigner; an extrovert, and in personality the opposite of Paul Dirac.
    At conferences Eugene Wigner, famous for his modesty, referred to his "famous brother-in law!"
    The periods of Dirac's life span his childhood in England, his career in Cambridge, his travels to the Soviet union before and during the Cold War, and his retirement in Florida, USA.
    I met him once at lunch when he was visiting his son in Aarhus where I was teaching at the time!
    There is some science in the book, but mostly it is about Dirac's life.
    It has become popular to speculate that geniuses might have suffered from some form of undiagnosed autism, to account for their character quirks. Personally I believe this is unlikely.
    Reviewed by Palle Jorgensen, February 2010.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Inside the Life of Paul Dirac

    Along with being an excellent character study of a man who grew up with a mentally abusive father and a victimized mother, this is a biography that draws the reader into the time and relationships of the ground breaking scientist of the 20th Century.Paul Dirac, a little known name outside of the scientific community, was one of the greatest minds in theoretical physics.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 1