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Feynman Hardcover – August 30, 2011


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Amazon.com Review

Product Description
Richard Feynman: physicist . . . Nobel winner . . . bestselling author . . . safe-cracker.

In this substantial graphic novel biography, First Second presents the larger-than-life exploits of Nobel-winning quantum physicist, adventurer, musician, world-class raconteur, and one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century: Richard Feynman. Written by nonfiction comics mainstay Jim Ottaviani and brilliantly illustrated by First Second author Leland Myrick, Feynman tells the story of the great man’s life from his childhood in Long Island to his work on the Manhattan Project and the Challenger disaster. Ottaviani tackles the bad with the good, leaving the reader delighted by Feynman’s exuberant life and staggered at the loss humanity suffered with his death.

Anyone who ever wanted to know more about Richard P. Feynman, quantum electrodynamics, the fine art of the bongo drums, the outrageously obscure nation of Tuva, or the development and popularization of the field of physics in the United States need look no further than this rich and joyful work.

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Review

"These images capture with remarkable sensitivity the essence of Feynman’s character.  The comic-book picture somehow comes to life and speaks with the voice of the real Feynman.” -- Freeman Dyson, The New York Review of Books
 
 
"Spectacular.” -- The Horn Book, starred review
 
 
"...a penetrating and insightful biography" --Washington Independent Review of Books
 
 
"Challenging and thought-provoking" --VOYA review
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Product Details

  • Lexile Measure: 620L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: First Second; 1st edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596432594
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596432598
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Very well told and illustrated.
Beach Dweller
This graphic novel biography is an excellent introduction to the life of Dr. Richard Feynman.
Trayton White
This is a great primer on the man, but also on his way of looking at the world.
S. Hall

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Jean E. Pouliot on August 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Feynman" is a completely captivating look at the strange and wonderful late physicist Richard Feynman. I have been reading lots of Jim Ottaviani lately, and this is by far the best. His collaboration with graphic artist Leland Myrick has produced a level of storytelling that is clear, entertaining and informative. "Feynman" operates at the level of what all graphic novels should aspire to be.

The book takes us through Feynman's early years. It was poignant to see him struggle to feed scientific books to his little sister Joan, in a day when little girls weren't supposed to want to be scientists. We see a puckish Feynman at Los Alamos during the war, and his loving efforts to tend to his ailing wife. After the war, we see him developing his theories of Quantum Electrodynamics and win a Nobel. His efforts to clarify the causes of the Challenger disaster - famously dipping O-ring material into a glass of cold water -- get the coverage they deserve. Only in the last pages does the narrative falter. Feynman's final trial with illness and death are barely shown.

The famous Feynman personality comes across very well in these pages. He is the smirking warrior, sneaking in and out of the Los Alamos compound through a hole in the fence that the military insisted did not exist. His brilliance is more than hinted at. He develops a notation to help him with his quantum calculations. The book is even not afraid to show him as somewhat of a kook and horn dog, ogling pretty coeds, hanging out in hot tubs at Esalen and doing his research in a strip club. The man was unstoppable and inscrutable.

Some of the sciencey sections of the book may be too much.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A. Jogalekar VINE VOICE on August 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With his colorful personality and constant propensity to get into all kinds of adventures, Richard Feynman is probably the perfect scientific character to commit to comic book form, so in one way this graphic novel is long due. What is remarkable is how powerfully Ottaviani and Myrick harness this unique medium to accurately dramatize the life and qualities of this genius. Both authors are uniquely qualified for this endeavor, having already penned graphic portraits of Niels Bohr, Robert Oppenheimer and Leo Szilard.

Ottaviani and Myrick manage to capture the essential characteristics that made Feynman such a cherished teacher, scientist, friend, colleague, and public personality. Most importantly, the book succeeds in vividly bringing out Feynman's quintessential quality of almost obsessively staking out his own iconoclastic path both in science and in life. The biography is really a memoir akin to "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman" since it features Feynman's own account of his life, work and intellectual development. The great strength of the book is that it uses close-ups and color to highlight key words and moments from Feynman's life. While the biographical information in the book has been covered in other works and most notably in Feynman's own memoirs, the comic book form has a very different impact because of the combined literary-visual effect it has on the viewer.

For instance, in describing Feynman's time at Los Alamos, one can actually see people's bewildered faces as they struggled to comprehend both his genius in solving intractable physics problems and his wildly successful attempts at safe-breaking.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Ursiform TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am very much a fan of Feynman. I met him a couple of times, heard him lecture a few times, and "grew up" on the "Lectures", of which I have copies of the first editions. He was a brilliant physicist as well as a brilliant raconteur; some argue, with cause, that the latter leads non-physicists to overrate his significance in twentieth century physics. But he was one of the leading physicists of his century, and his skills as a teacher made him beloved by the generations of physicists who have followed him.

This well done and mostly easy-reading graphic "biography" tells the Feynman story with Feynman as narrator. It is, of course, a posthumous narration and, as such, represents a bit of hagiography on the part of the author (Ottaviani). But the voice of Feynman comes through, and with it, for me, comes a pleasing sense of nostalgia.

What keeps me from five stars is that this is presented as a biography, while it is actually a compilation of Feynman's reminiscences in graphic form. So it is really a posthumous memoir, and if were billed as that I would give it five stars. But it is called a biography, and as such it fails because it lacks any independent or critical viewpoint.

But don't let that keep you from reading it. The Feynman story as told by Feynman is a terrific story, even if his contemporaries might have quibbled with pieces here and there. Love it on its own terms.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By E. Herz on April 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
There is nothing particularly bad about Feynman by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick. The issue is that the comic biography does not really bring anything new to the table. Richard Feynman's life is something that has already been extensively documented, most notabely in his the subject's own books, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)and "What Do You Care What Other People Think?": Further Adventures of a Curious Character. Mr. Feynman's lectures are available in books, on web sites and even on youtube.

Feynman (the graphic novel) is a very accurate retelling of his life story. It hits all the major points of his education, his career and his thoughts on physics and quantum mechanics. The authors include bits from several of his lectures and do a good job showing the quirkiness of the character. They, however, do not fully capitalize on the comic form. This could have been an opportunity to try and illustrate many of Feynman's revelations. Instead, during a lecture the reader gets an illustration of the protagonist lecturing! Biography can always trend a bit more toward's tell rather than show, but as a graphic novel this approach makes for poor sequential art.

If you want to read about a great physicist and need to do with heavy graphic elements then this book is right for you. Otherwise, just dive in to the already existing fantastic prose work about Mr. Feynman.
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