by Jim Ottaviani
Cover Artist: Leland Myrick
Review by Gayle Surrette
First Second Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596432598
Date: 30 August 2011 List Price $29.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Richard Feynman was, and in most ways still is, my favorite physicist. I know how geeky you must be to have a favorite physicist -- not very. I first became aware of him when I came across a book he'd written that sounded like fun -- Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!. It was very readable and entertaining. Over the years, I collected many of his writings -- including some of his heavy-duty physics publications that I take a run at every now and then. I was surprised at how many of the books listed in the bibliography that I have. Feynman, who died in 1988, was one of a kind and Feynman, written by Jim Ottaviani and art by Leland Myrick, is an informative, entertaining, engaging, and educational biography of a man who was involved in many of the historic events that occurred during his lifetime.
First this is a graphic biography of Feynman. That doesn't mean that it's just a basic coverage of his life. Ottaviani actually manages to cover the incidents in his life that were important in forming him into the man he became, but also the science and discoveries that he was involved in. Feynman spent a great deal of time trying to get average intelligent people excited about and understanding physics. Ottaviani, with the art of Myrick, manages to explain some of Feynman's work so that the gist is understood by the reader -- at least enough to give several great "Aha!" moments during the book.
Feynman's website says of Feynman,
"This web site is dedicated to Richard P. Feynman -- scientist, teacher, raconteur, and musician. He assisted in the development of the atomic bomb, expanded the understanding of quantum electrodynamics, translated Mayan hieroglyphics, and cut to the heart of the Challenger disaster."As you can tell, Ottaviani and Myrick had a big job ahead of them to put together this graphic biography. That they not only succeed but excel at making Feynman come alive for the reader says a lot about their talent and ability to merge the words and art tell a story.
I just can't say enough good things about this book. If you've been interested in Feynman but didn't know where to start to learn more about him -- this is the book for you. If you know someone who doesn't believe scientists can be fun -- well, this is the book to prove it. If you're interested in how science works and how scientists think about things, Ottaviani and Myrick did a great job distilling the spirit of Feynman's love of science into words and pictures. I loved this quote on page 248,
"For a successful technology reality must take precedence over pubic relations for nature cannot be fooled."Too often we forget science isn't about belief or wishing it's about what is -- facts. Facts don't change because they're inconvenient; they just are.
This is a great volume and a wonderful addition to any library owned by someone interested in science.