Tuva or Bust!: Richard Feynman's Last Journey

Ralph Leighton, Author W. W. Norton & Company $19.95 (254p) ISBN 978-0-393-02953-6
As a kid, physicist Richard Feynman collected triangular postage stamps from Tannu Tuva, a remote, mountain-capped fastness in Mongolia. In adulthood, a chance conversation with fellow drummer and coauthor Leighton ( What Do You Care What Other People Think? ) kindled their yearning for this exotic land of nomads, yaks and camels, nominally independent from 1921 to 1944 and now part of the U.S.S.R. The duo spent a frustrating decade trying to get to Tannu Tuva, dickering with Soviet officials while Feynman, who died in 1988, also coped with recurring cancer and investigated the Challenger space shuttle disaster for NASA. Only Leighton would ultimately make the long-sought pilgrimage to Tannu Tuva, where he was serenaded with songs by ethnographer Ondar Daryma, who wages a ``one-man crusade to preserve Tuvan culture.'' (A vinyl record of xoomei --Tuvan throat-singing in which one singer, incredibly, intones two melodies at once--comes as an insert with the book). Animated by irrepressible high spirits, this serendipitous saga is a tale of adventure, heartbreak and rare friendship. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991
Release date: 05/01/1991
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-14-015614-0
Paperback - 260 pages - 978-0-393-32069-5
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