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Not as good as The Cartoon History of the Universe
on 6 July 2000
I was delighted when some time ago I received two volumes of Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe as a present from a friend. It is absolutely hilarious! Being a physicist, I considered it a must to add Cartoon Guide to Physics to my Larry Gonick collection.
However, I was disappointed. The guide indeed tries to cover a significant amount of the usual high-school physics course - mechanics, electricity and magnetism (missing are thermodynamics and optics) - but it is not really as charmingly funny as the Cartoon History of the Universe. As a physicist, I can assure you that the problem does not lie in the simple fact that the history is more interesting topic than physics - physics is plenty interesting, thank you! But the desired blend between the textbook and the cartoon resulted in something that is not educational enough to actually learn something from it and too boring to make a good cartoon.
Trying to find some bright spot, I am happy to report I have not discovered any major flops in the science part of the book. Also, I believe the book actually becomes somewhat more interesting toward the end. But then again, if I would have to choose between, say, the chapter on relativity and Joseph Schwartz's Einstein for Beginners, I would probably opt for the latter.