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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-05-30
- Reviewer: Staff
Jumping from the Manhattan Project laboratories of Los Alamos, N.Mex., to the beaches of Rio, Ottaviani and Myrick's portrait of the Nobel Prize–winning physicist and general polymath Richard Feynman eschews chronology in favor of rhythm, and it's an approach that suits their subject perfectly. While Feynman's role in the creation of the atomic bomb and his contributions to 20th-century quantum electrodynamics are fascinating topics, they share equal time with his vaguely libertine (for a physicist, anyway) approach to romance and his tireless—and uneven—attempts to understand such nonscientific pursuits as art, language, safecracking, samba music, and cooking. Though he was indisputably one of the leading figures in the post-Einstein scientific landscape, Feynman's most enduring pursuit was making physics accessible to the layman, and several sections of the book illustrate how this impulse went beyond mere populism and came to dominate his scientific life. When he wasn't relaxing on the beach, he frequently chose teaching freshmen or lecturing to the general public over pure research. Myrick's light, sketchy inks keep the proceedings from bogging down, even in the lecture hall, and an extensive bibliography and sketchbook prove that the most dogged intellectual pursuit can still be a good time. (Aug.)