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Tuva or bust! : Richard Feynman's last journey /

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: W.W. Norton, 2000
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In 1977, Feynman and his sidekick-- fellow drummer and geography enthusiast Ralph Leighton--set out to make arrangements to visit Tuva, doing noble and hilarious battle with Soviet red tape, befriending quite a few Tuvans, and discovering the wonders of Tuvan throat-singing. Their Byzantine attempts to reach Tannu Tuva would span a decade, interrupted by Feynman's appointment to the committee investigating the Challenger disaster, and his tragic struggle with the cancer that finally killed him. Tuva or Bust! chronicles the deepening friendship of two zany, brilliant strategists whose love of the absurd will delight and instruct. It is Richard Feynman's last, best adventure.

Review by Choice Review

This is the last chapter of the memoirs of physicist Richard Feynman, which started with "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" (CH, Apr'85) and continued with "What Do YOU Care What Other People Think?" (CH, Feb'89). The book begins with a conversation between Feynman and his friend Ralph Leighton concerning Tannu Tuva, an autonomous republic of the Soviet Union known to stamp collectors and to almost nobody else. They investigated it, and the more they learned the more exotic it appeared. At about the same time as Feynman emerged from a serious operation for cancer they decided to go there, and for the next ten years, as the struggle with cancer continued, they corresponded with Soviet students of the area, decoded its Turkic language, and wrestled with the Soviet bureaucracy for permission for a visit. At the end, almost at the same moment the Soviet government issued a cordial invitation that offered everything they had hoped for, Feynman died. The story is told in a lively way and the reader learns something of Tannu Tuva as well as gaining further glimpses of the "curious character," as Professor Feynman sometimes called himself. An amusing evening's read.-D. Park, Williams College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

Leighton and his close friend Richard Feynman, the puckish Nobel Prize-winning physicist who was instrumental in postulating the existence of quarks and discovering the cause of the Challenger disaster, became enamored of the little-known country of Tannu Tuva, part of the Soviet Union since 1944. Tuva is in the center of Asia, surrounded by the mountains of Siberia and northwest Mongolia and dotted with yurts, herds of reindeer and yak, and communities of Buddhist nomads who excel in stone carving and "throat-singing" (a vinyl record is included). Leighton and Feynman spent 10 years researching Tuva and composing letters in stilted Tuvan to try to secure permission to visit this inaccessible region. Their story is chock-full of "almosts," boundless enthusiasm, wacky humor, and gleeful determination. Feynman, ill with cancer, died just before their elaborate diplomacy finally paid off, but at least Leighton made it to the land of their dream. Previous Leighton and Feynman collaborations are the popular Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! [BKL N 15 84] and What Do You Care What Other People Think? [BKL O 15 88]. ~--Donna Seaman

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In a high-spirited tale of adventure and heartbreak, Leighton travels to a remote corner of Mongolia on behalf of his dying friend, the late physicist Feynman. Illustrated. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Intrigued by the comely, diamond-shaped stamps collected as children from an obscure, Soviet-controlled region of Mongolia called Tannu Tuva, and by the curious spelling of its capital--Kyzyl--Nobel laureate physicist Feynman and his sidekick Leighton make a pact to visit the area. Despite snags engendered by Cold War politics and Feynman's deteriorating physical condition, their persistence is rewarded by an official invitation to Tuva from the USSR Academy of Sciences. Sadly, Feynman is felled by abdominal cancer before the trip begins, yet his irrepressible pranks and unquenchable intellectual curiosity touch the hearts of all involved in organizing the journey. Readers who enjoyed the collaborative efforts of Feynman and Leighton in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman ( LJ 3/15/85) and What Do You Care What Other People Think? ( LJ 11/15/88) will undoubtedly cherish this poignant account of Feynman's last escapade.--Mark Annichiarico, ``Library Journal'' (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Ralph Leighton lives in northern California.

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