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  • When We Cease to Understand the World

  • Written by: Benjamín Labatut
  • Narrated by: Adam Barr
  • Length: 5 hrs and 42 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (18 ratings)

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When We Cease to Understand the World cover art

When We Cease to Understand the World

Written by: Benjamín Labatut
Narrated by: Adam Barr
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Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize.

A Guardian Fiction Book of the year.

Sometimes discovery brings destruction.

When We Cease to Understand the World shows us great minds striking out into dangerous, uncharted terrain.

Fritz Haber, Alexander Grothendieck, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger: these are among the luminaries into whose troubled minds we are thrust as they grapple with the most profound questions of existence. They have strokes of unparalleled genius, they alienate friends and lovers, they descend into isolated states of madness. Some of their discoveries revolutionise our world for the better; others pave the way to chaos and unimaginable suffering. The lines are never clear.

With breakneck pace and wondrous detail, Benjamín Labatut uses the imaginative resources of fiction to break open the stories of scientists and mathematicians who expanded our notions of the possible.

©2020 Benjamín Labatut (P)2021 Pushkin Press

Critic Reviews

A monstrous and brilliant book.
-- Philip Pullman

 Wholly mesmerising and revelatory... Completely fascinating.
-- William Boyd

What listeners say about When We Cease to Understand the World

Average Customer Ratings
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Great work, one of it's kind

I began listening to this book just to while away some time but got completely bewitched from the first para of Prussian Blue...what a book it is, just WOW!

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    4 out of 5 stars

Unbelievable

One can decide after reading, how much is fiction in this book about lives of the great scientists of 20the century. The author has fantasized them like a myth. The reader may enjoy reading it once.

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  • Kit Mclean
  • 05-01-23

Amazing, informative

Beautifully woven story around real events and influential people. A factual based fiction book. Starts with almost no fiction and adds more embellishment as the story progresses. A treasure for nerds with a love of literature.

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  • Mooncoin
  • 10-03-22

Rambling and unfocused

Is this one book or four? All the real life stories are fascinating but it feels to me that the author had nothing really to say so padded it all out with what I’d call novelistic drivel. I’m guessing he wrote this under contractual obligation.

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  • humidake
  • 02-03-22

heading is optional but it's not

this fiction, package from fact, should be outline so readers know what is real and what is made up. it's enjoyable to read but so is eating junk food

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 13-10-22

most depressing book I have ever read

Could not finish it a total waste of space. One could hardly call it a novel.

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  • Enrico Baldo
  • 28-02-22

good but not fantastic,

after a good start the story became flat....no climax and it is not clear the writer's final objective.