A Briefer History of Time by Dr. Stephen Hawking with Leonard Mlodinow

The cover of A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow. Bantam Dell/Random House

The Bottom Line

For someone who's interested in learning the basic concepts of modern theoretical physics, but doesn't have any sort of background in physics, this would be one of the best books I could recommend. For the die hard physicist, this book offers little in the way of new insights.


  • A broad look at the major topics on the border of theoretical physics.
  • Clear presentation of complex physics topics.
  • Attractive illustrations are throughout the book.


  • The focus is very direct, covering only the key topics with little elaboration.
  • Many of the illustrations are unnecessary and largely decorative.


Guide Review - A Briefer History of Time by Dr. Stephen Hawking with Leonard Mlodinow

Dr. Stephen Hawking's 1988 book A Brief History of Time is one of the bestselling physics books - one of the bestselling books - of all time. In this new edition, Stephen Hawking (along with Leonard Mlodinow) have stripped the book of all extraneous commentary and offer a clear, bare-bones look at the universe as seen through the eyes of one of our most brilliant theoretical physicists.

Even though this version of the book is "briefer" than the original, it's still an expansive look at physics, ranging from the very nature of science to the theoretical work involved in quantum gravity and string theory.

Hawking explains quantum physics and relativity briefly, glossing over the key aspects without delving into much depth on them.

Hawking is known for his revolutionary work in the study of black holes, and he takes some time to explore them in this book, and how they relate to the big bang theory and the expanding universe, especially as presented by the inflationary universe model.

That, overall, is the key to this book ... it's an excellent introductory volume, but provides virtually nothing of interest to anyone who has already read books on this topic. This isn't the sort of book you buy for your science geek friend, it's the one that you buy for someone who thinks that science is way beyond them. Or maybe you're the one who thinks that science is beyond them.

A Briefer History of Time won't make the reader a master of physics, but it will explain even the unexplainable concepts.