Listen free for 30 days

  • When We Cease to Understand the World

  • By: Benjamín Labatut
  • Narrated by: Adam Barr
  • Length: 5 hrs and 42 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (78 ratings)

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
Exclusive member-only deals.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
Buy Now for £14.49

Buy Now for £14.49

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

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
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    44
  • 4 Stars
    23
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    2
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    45
  • 4 Stars
    16
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    35
  • 4 Stars
    21
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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