Tuva or bust! : Richard Feynman's last journey

by Ralph Leighton

Hardcover, 1991

Status

Available

Publication

New York : W.W. Norton, 1991.

Description

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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member jennorthcoast
This is a fascinating, humorous and sometimes bittersweet tale of Nobel-Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman’s search for the mysterious country of Tannu Tuva. Many years ago I read Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman, and have seen at least one PBS special on his life and search for Tuva.
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Reading this book, I am agog at the incredible lengths he and Leighton and others went through to get to a place so far away—a place Feynman never reached in the end. The journey is sometimes more important than reaching the goal. This adventure occurred in the 1980s when Russia was the USSR, and before the Internet had really taken off; the nostalgia of pre-internet methods of researching — letters, telexes, especially academic libraries—is fascinating. Tuva is now well known, along with its famous throat singers, but back then it was one of the few remaining mysteries of the world—a country that existed on maps, then suddenly didn’t, hinted at through its colorful stamps to collectors like Feynman. With today’s globalization via the internet, there are no longer any mysterious unknown countries lurking about . . . are there? Read this book, then read more books by and about Feynman, a man who loved to learn and share his learning with the world.
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LibraryThing member HadriantheBlind
Charming and instructing book about an aspect of Dr. Feynman's life, as well as the culture of a little country in the center of Asia. His powerful and inspiring curiosity about the world shines through.

Best read while listening to Tuvan throat singing. I recommend Huun-Huur-Tu.
LibraryThing member dotarvi
As a huge fan of Richard Feynman's books of collected anecdotes, I was excited to read about him from some one else's perspective. Feynman, when talking about himself, has such a strange blend of self-deprecation, arrogance and genius that I was very curious to see how he would come off in
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another's eyes. And I was very satisfied to discover that Feynman appears to be more endearing from another's perspective than even when he writes about himself. The story is bitter-sweet, as it chronicles how he spent some of his last months before dying of cancer, but inspiring and wonderful to see how his mind and curiosity couldn't be put off by even that.
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LibraryThing member MeganAndJustin
As a huge fan of Richard Feynman's books of collected anecdotes, I was excited to read about him from some one else's perspective. Feynman, when talking about himself, has such a strange blend of self-deprecation, arrogance and genius that I was very curious to see how he would come off in
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another's eyes. And I was very satisfied to discover that Feynman appears to be more endearing from another's perspective than even when he writes about himself. The story is bitter-sweet, as it chronicles how he spent some of his last months before dying of cancer, but inspiring and wonderful to see how his mind and curiosity couldn't be put off by even that.
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LibraryThing member iayork
Off-beat , wonderful video!: If you are a fan of Richard Feynman, the nuclear physicist that dreamed of going to Tuva, you will just love this video. If you know nothing of Mr. Feynman, you will still enjoy it. It tells the story of Paul Pena's visit to Tuva in a delightful way. You will like
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seeing the culture of these peaceful, music-loving people.
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LibraryThing member nicholas
A fascinating, entertaining and poignant account of Richard Feynman's attempts to visit Tuva, a remote region in the mountains of Siberia.
LibraryThing member nancenwv
There is a buoyancy to curiosity, imagination, and humor if we will lighten up and let it take us. This is a wonderful story of a lifetime quest borne of a guessing game and some postage stamps with Richard Feynman and friends.

For me it eventually bogged down with too many sidetracks and people but
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it's a great story.
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LibraryThing member funkendub
Launched my long time interest in throat singing.
LibraryThing member bookwoman247
It all started in the mid-1970's with an animated dinner-table discussion between friends about obscure geographic locations.

When Richard Feynman produced a postage stamp that had been part of his childhood stamp collection from a country called Tuva, the two friends at once became interested in
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finding out more. When they discovered that the capital of Tuva is calldd Kyzyl they became nearly obsessed with the idea of visiting Tuva.

Unfortunately, getting to Tuva would not be easy. It lay deep in a remote corner of what was then the Soviet Union, and in the mid-70's, the Cold War raged on. Meanwhile, Feynman was also battling cancer.

This story, while poignant, is told with great humor and wit. I felt I got to know a bit about who Feynman was. In the process, I also learned about a place I'd never heard of before. Throat-singing? Who knew?

I definitely enjoyed this book, and I plan to read some of Feynman's work in the future.
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Barcode

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