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The Graphic Truth: Science and Society

Our survey of graphic nonfiction concludes with a grab bag of titles, most having to do with science or current events. Subjects range from a graphic adaptation of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species to an exploration of the intricacies of copyright law.

Science comes in for some whimsical treatment in books such as Journey by Starlight, which features a space-and-time-travelling Albert Einstein as narrator, and The Stuff of Life, an explanation of genetics and the origin of life.

Graphic nonfiction writers have also been unafraid to tackle serious social issues. Joe Sacco (illustrator of several war-themed graphic books) teamed up with Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Chris Hedges to produce Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, an unflinching look at the state of American society in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Sabrina Jones’s graphic adaptation of Marc Mauer’s study The Race to Incarcerate is about the burgeoning prison population in the U.S. Canadian illustrator Guy Delisle’s Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City looks at how religious and political tensions shape everyday life for the residents of that city.

Check out the following list for more compelling graphic nonfiction.


Amazon Says: Available in English for the very first time, In the Kitchen with Alain Passard is the first graphic novel to enter the kitchen of a master chef. Over the course of three year more...
Amazon Says: Available in English for the very first time, In the Kitchen with Alain Passard is the first graphic novel to enter the kitchen of a master chef. Over the course of three years, illustrator Christophe Blain trailed acclaimed chef Alain Passard through his kitchens and gardens. With simple yet sublime drawings and thousands of colorful panels, this book gives the reader an inside, uncensored look at the world of Passard, who shocked the food universe in 2001 by removing meat from the menu at his celebrated Paris restaurant, L'Arpege, and dedicating himself to serving vegetables from his own organic farms. This irresistible hardcover combines a portrait of an amazing chef, an inside look at his creative process, and a humorous riff on fine dining culture—plus fifteen recipes for the home kitchen—in one haute cuisine comic book for foodies! less...
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Amazon Says: In an incredibly fun and accessible two-color graphic-book format, the cofounders of Honest Tea tell the engaging story of how they created and built a mission-driven busin more...
Amazon Says: In an incredibly fun and accessible two-color graphic-book format, the cofounders of Honest Tea tell the engaging story of how they created and built a mission-driven business, offering a wealth of insights and advice to entrepreneurs, would-be entrepreneurs, and millions of Honest Tea drinkers about the challenges and hurdles of creating a successful business--and the importance of perseverance and creative problem-solving. Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff began Honest Tea fifteen years ago with little more than a tea leaf of an idea and a passion to offer organic, freshly brewed, lightly sweetened bottled tea. Today Honest Tea is a rapidly expanding national brand sold in more than 100,0000 grocery stores, restaurants, convenience stores and drugstores across the country. The brand has flourished as American consumers move toward healthier and greener lifestyles. less...
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Amazon Says: The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics is the most imaginative and accessible introductory statistics course you’ll ever take. Employing an irresistible cast of dragon-ridin more...
Amazon Says: The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics is the most imaginative and accessible introductory statistics course you’ll ever take. Employing an irresistible cast of dragon-riding Vikings, lizard-throwing giants, and feuding aliens, the renowned illustrator Grady Klein and the award-winning statistician Alan Dabney teach you how to collect reliable data, make confident statements based on limited information, and judge the usefulness of polls and the other numbers that you’re bombarded with every day. If you want to go beyond the basics, they’ve created the ultimate resource: “The Math Cave,” where they reveal the more advanced formulas and concepts. Timely, authoritative, and hilarious, The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics is an essential guide for anyone who wants to better navigate our data-driven world. less...
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Amazon Says: Parecomic is a graphic novel about the system we live in—what’s wrong with it, and how we might be able change it for the better. The recent upsurge in popular protest aro more...
Amazon Says: Parecomic is a graphic novel about the system we live in—what’s wrong with it, and how we might be able change it for the better. The recent upsurge in popular protest around the world shows that people are not happy with the state of capitalism and desire an alternative that will work for the 99%, not just the 1%. Parecon is one such alternative, and Parecomic brings this to life in illustrated form. Parecomic is about Michael Albert—the visionary behind “participatory economics”—and his life’s struggle as a left-wing activist in the US, beginning with the heady days of 1960s student demos and lifestyle rebellions; following the developments of the antiwar, civil rights, woman’s, and Black Panthers movements; to the establishment of alternative media like South End Press and ZNet; and the development of the participatory economics model. less...
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Amazon Says: "Do not underestimate the power of the book you are holding in your hands." —Michelle Alexander More than 2 million people are now imprisoned in the United States, pr more...
Amazon Says: "Do not underestimate the power of the book you are holding in your hands." —Michelle Alexander More than 2 million people are now imprisoned in the United States, producing the highest rate of incarceration in the world. How did this happen? As the director of The Sentencing Project, Marc Mauer has long been one of the country’s foremost experts on sentencing policy, race, and the criminal justice system. His book Race to Incarcerate has become the essential text for understanding the exponential growth of the U.S. prison system; Michelle Alexander, author of the bestselling The New Jim Crow, calls it "utterly indispensable." Now, Sabrina Jones, a member of the World War 3 Illustrated collective and an acclaimed author of politically engaged comics, has collaborated with Mauer to adapt and update the original book into a vivid and compelling comics narrative. Jones's dramatic artwork adds passion and compassion to the complex story of the penal system’s shift from rehabilitation to punishment and the ensuing four decades of prison expansion, its interplay with the devastating "War on Drugs," and its corrosive effect on generations of Americans. With a preface by Mauer and a foreword by Alexander, Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling presents a compelling argument about mass incarceration’s tragic impact on communities of color—if current trends continue, one of every three black males and one of every six Latino males born today can expect to do time in prison. The race to incarcerate is not only a failed social policy, but also one that prevents a just, diverse society from flourishing. less...
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Amazon Says: Jim Ottaviani returns with an action-packed account of the three greatest primatologists of the last century: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. These three gro more...
Amazon Says: Jim Ottaviani returns with an action-packed account of the three greatest primatologists of the last century: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. These three ground-breaking researchers were all students of the great Louis Leakey, and each made profound contributions to primatology—and to our own understanding of ourselves. Tackling Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas in turn, and covering the highlights of their respective careers, Primates is an accessible, entertaining, and informative look at the field of primatology and at the lives of three of the most remarkable women scientists of the twentieth century. Thanks to the charming and inviting illustrations by Maris Wicks, this is a nonfiction graphic novel with broad appeal. less...
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Amazon Says: Albert Einstein said his first ideas about relativity came from looking in the mirror as a teenager and wondering what it would be like to travel on a beam of light. This is t more...
Amazon Says: Albert Einstein said his first ideas about relativity came from looking in the mirror as a teenager and wondering what it would be like to travel on a beam of light. This is the story of that journey... Journey by Starlight follows an imaginary recreation of Albert Einstein, and his traveling companion through space and time as they travel on a beam of light from a star over 3,000 light years away to Earth. Along the way, Einstein explains the science behind everything from the origins of the universe to the meaning of life, relativity, black holes, quantum mechanics (for beginners), climate change, evolution vs. intelligent design, and how the brain works, all delivered in fun, easy-to-understand, bite-sized chunks. Based on the popular blog of the same name, Journey By Starlight has been given the graphic novel treatment, pairing the narrative with fantastic, whimsical artwork to assist in simplifying what can be difficult-to-understand ideas. less...
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Amazon Says: Stimulus plans: good or bad? Free markets: How free are they? Jobs: Can we afford them? Occupy Wall Street . . . worldwide! Everybody's talking about the economy, but how can more...
Amazon Says: Stimulus plans: good or bad? Free markets: How free are they? Jobs: Can we afford them? Occupy Wall Street . . . worldwide! Everybody's talking about the economy, but how can we, the people, understand what Wall Street or Washington knows--or say they know? Read Economix. With clear, witty writing and quirky, accessible art, this important and timely graphic novel transforms "the dismal science" of economics into a fun, fact-filled story about human nature and our attempts to make the most of what we've got . . . and sometimes what our neighbors have got. Economix explains it all, from the beginning of Western economic thought, to markets free and otherwise, to economic failures, successes, limitations, and future possibilities. It's the essential, accessible guide to understanding the economy and economic practices. A must-read for every citizen and every voter. PRAISE FOR ECONOMIX "Economix is a lively, cheerfully opinionated romp through the historical and intellectual foundations of our current economy and our current economic problems. Goodwin has a knack for distilling complex ideas and events in ways that invite the reader to follow the big picture without losing track of what actually happened. Any reader wondering how our economy got to where it is today will find this a refreshing overview." --Timothy W. Guinnane, Philip Golden Bartlett Professor of Economic History, Yale University  "[Economix] brings a lively visual sensibility to this intensely abstruse subject matter without condescending to the reader or dumbing the ideas down." --MotherJones.com "This witty and elegant volume takes on a number of complex issues--in this case, economics, history and finance--and makes them comprehensible for mere mortals." --Miami Herald "It's simply phenomenal. You could read ten books on the subject and not glean as much information." -- David Bach founder of FinishRich Media; author of nine New York Times bestsellers, including Debt Free for Life and The Automatic Millionaire "Goodwin has done the seemingly impossible--he has made economics comprehensible and funny."--Joel Bakan, author of The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power "An amazing lesson in true-world economics! Delightfully presented, powerful, insightful, and important information! What a fun way to fathom a deep and often dark subject!" --John Perkins, author of Hoodwinked and the New York Times bestseller Confessions of an Economic Hit Man "Smart, insightful, clear, and as close to the truth as economics can get. The bonus: Who would have guessed that economics could be fun, and--here's the joy--really accessible? Goodwin roots us in history and fills us with common sense understanding. As he puts it early on, economics seems horribly complicated mostly because we're looking at it all at once. Broken down into its component pieces, it's relatively easy to understand. And a good understanding of economics is critical to maneuvering in the world today. If I were compiling a list of the 100 most important books you can read in a lifetime, this would be on it." --Stephen Petranek, editor-in-chief, Weider History magazines, former editor-in-chief of Discover magazine "Through a potent mix of comics and punchy, concise, accessible prose, Goodwin takes us on a provocative, exhaustively researched, and exceedingly engaging trip through our history and present day, creating an alternately hilarious and scary picture of where we are today as an economy-- and what it all means. More than that, Goodwin makes the arcane, understandable. If your mind either spins or slumbers at the thought of economics, read Goodwin's Economix and all will become clear. --Nomi Prins, author of It Takes a Pillage: An Epic Tale of Power, Deceit, and Untold Trillions less...
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Amazon Says: "Neither Jewish nor Arab, Delisle explores Jerusalem and is able to observe this strange world with candidness and humor...But most of all, those stories convey what life in E more...
Amazon Says: "Neither Jewish nor Arab, Delisle explores Jerusalem and is able to observe this strange world with candidness and humor...But most of all, those stories convey what life in East Jerusalem is about for an expatriate."—Haaretz"Engaging...[ Delisle] highlights the very complex lives of Israelis, Palestinians, and foreign residents."—Publishers Weekly Starred Review Guy Delisle expertly lays the groundwork for a cultural road map of contemporary Jerusalem, utilizing the classic stranger in a strange land point of view that made his other books, Pyongyang, Shenzhen, and Burma Chronicles required reading for understanding what daily life is like in cities few are able to travel to. In Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, Delisle explores the complexities of a city that represents so much to so many. He eloquently examines the impact of the conflict on the lives of people on both sides of the wall while drolly recounting the quotidian: checkpoints, traffic jams, and holidays. When observing the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim populations that call Jerusalem home, Delisle’s drawn line is both sensitive and fair, assuming nothing and drawing everything. Jerusalem showcases once more Delisle’s mastery of the travelogue. less...
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Amazon Says: Two years ago, Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges and award-winning cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco set out to take a look at the sacrifice zones, those areas in America t more...
Amazon Says: Two years ago, Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges and award-winning cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco set out to take a look at the sacrifice zones, those areas in America that have been offered up for exploitation in the name of profit, progress, and technological advancement. They wanted to show in words and drawings what life looks like in places where the marketplace rules without constraints, where human beings and the natural world are used and then discarded to maximize profit. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is the searing account of their travels. The book starts in the western plains, where Native Americans were sacrificed in the giddy race for land and empire. It moves to the old manufacturing centers and coal fields that fueled the industrial revolution, but now lie depleted and in decay. It follows the steady downward spiral of American labor into the nation's produce fields and ends in Zuccotti Park where a new generation revolts against a corporate state that has handed to the young an economic, political, cultural and environmental catastrophe. less...
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Amazon Says: The award-winning illustrator Grady Klein has paired up with the world’s only stand-up economist, Yoram Bauman, PhD, to take the dismal out of the dismal science. From the o more...
Amazon Says: The award-winning illustrator Grady Klein has paired up with the world’s only stand-up economist, Yoram Bauman, PhD, to take the dismal out of the dismal science. From the optimizing individual to game theory to price theory, The Cartoon Introduction to Economics is the most digestible, explicable, and humorous 200-page introduction to microeconomics you’ll ever read. Bauman has put the “comedy” into “economy” at comedy clubs and universities around the country and around the world (his “Principles of Economics, Translated” is a YouTube cult classic). As an educator at both the university and high school levels, he has learned how to make economics relevant to today’s world and today’s students. As Google’s chief economist, Hal Varian, wrote, “You don’t need a brand-new economics. You just need to see the really cool stuff, the material they didn’t get to when you studied economics.” The Cartoon Introduction to Economics is all about integrating the really cool stuff into an overview of the entire discipline of microeconomics, from decision trees to game trees to taxes and thinking at the margin. Rendering the cool stuff fun is the artistry of the illustrator and lauded graphic novelist Klein. Panel by panel, page by page, he puts comics into economics. So if the vertiginous economy or a dour professor’s 600-page econ textbook has you desperate for a fun, factual guide to economics, reach for The Cartoon Introduction to Economics and let the collaborative genius of the Klein-Bauman team walk you through an entire introductory microeconomics course. less...
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Amazon Says: Need to understand today’s economy? This is the book for you. The Cartoon Introduction to Economics, Volume Two: Macroeconomics is the most accessible, intelligible, and hum more...
Amazon Says: Need to understand today’s economy? This is the book for you. The Cartoon Introduction to Economics, Volume Two: Macroeconomics is the most accessible, intelligible, and humorous introduction to unemployment, inflation, and debt you’ll ever read. Whereas Volume One: Microeconomics dealt with the optimizing individual, Volume Two: Macroeconomics explains the factors that affect the economy of an entire country, and indeed the planet. It explores the two big concerns of macroeconomics: how economies grow and why economies collapse. It illustrates the basics of the labor market and explains what the GDP is and what it measures, as well as the influence of government, trade, and technology on the economy. Along the way, it covers the economics of global poverty, climate change, and the business cycle. In short, if any of these topics have cropped up in a news story and caused you to wish you grasped the underlying basics, buy this book. less...
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Amazon Says: ''A serious book, but laced with humor... a novel approach. Required reading for all educators.''- Harvey Pekar, American Splendor ''An utterly original and deliciously irrev more...
Amazon Says: ''A serious book, but laced with humor... a novel approach. Required reading for all educators.''- Harvey Pekar, American Splendor ''An utterly original and deliciously irreverent book...''- From the Foreword by Jonathan Kozol, Savage Inequalities ''This book is a treasure chest of insight. It represents what dedicated, imaginative teaching is all about and is a blueprint for everyone who wants to explore the intimate connection between teaching and learning.'' - Peter Kuper, Diario De Oaxaca ''To Teach is hilarious serious and fabulous! A broad manifesto that will change many people's lives.''- Laurie Anderson, artist and musician ''Weaving in inspirational anecdotes and playful visual metaphors, Ayers and Alexander-Tanner's collaboration cleverly illustrates the vital importance and moral necessity of teaching.'' - Josh Neufeld, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge ''I wish I'd read this book before I started teaching and making comics a decade ago, it's chock full of practical and philosophical advice. I know this book will inspire a generation of teachers to come.''- Lauren Weinstein, Girl Stories ''To Teach represents a fresh breeze in the educational and social science research community. It takes daring to reconceptualize entrenched practices and traditional modes of research.'' - Elliot Eisner, Professor Emeritus of Art, Stanford University ''The perennial dance of learning that can also be teaching at its best is both brilliantly and graphically shown herein by Messrs. Ayers and Alexander-Tanner. Do keep in mind that although they can show you the right steps, you still have to listen closely to your interior music and follow its changing melodies and rhythms.'' - Gary Dumm, artist, Ego & Hubris: The Michael Malice Story, and American Splendor ''To Teach is great reading not only to student teachers but to anyone who has a vested interest in our education system. I especially appreciated the smack down of the dehumanizing trend to pigeonhole every other kid with some kind of ''at risk'' syndrome! It also is a great example of how comic art is a very efficient way to communicate complex ideas.'' - Peter Bagge, comics journalist and author of the Buddy Bradley series This graphic novel brings to life William Ayers s bestselling memoir To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher, now in its third edition. From Ayers early days teaching kindergarten, readers follow this renowned educational theorist on his ''voyage of discovery and surprise.'' We meet fellow travelers from schools across the country and watch students grow across a year and a lifetime. To Teach is a vivid, honest portrayal of the everyday magic of teaching, and what it means to be a ''good'' teacher debunking myths perpetuated on film and other starry-eyed hero/teacher fictions. Illuminated by the evocative and wry drawings of Ryan Alexander-Tanner, this literary comics memoir is both engaging and insightful. These illustrated stories remind us how curiosity, a sense of adventure, and a healthy dose of reflection can guide us all to learn the most from this world. This dynamic book will speak to comic fans, memoir readers, and educators of all stripes. less...
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Amazon Says: Read David Axe's blogs and other content on the Penguin Community. The war memoir as graphic novel-an utterly unforgettable and highly original look at war in more...
Amazon Says: Read David Axe's blogs and other content on the Penguin Community. The war memoir as graphic novel-an utterly unforgettable and highly original look at war in the 21st century. Street battles with spears and arrows in sweltering East Timor. Bone- jarring artillery duels in Afghanistan's mountains. Long patrols on the sandy wastes of southern Iraq. For four years, war was life for David Axe. He was alternately bored out of his mind and completely terrified. It was strangely addictive. As a correspondent for The Washington Times, C-SPAN and BBC Radio, Axe flew from conflict to conflict, reveling in death, danger, and destruction abroad while, back in D.C., his apartment gathered dust, his plants died, and his relationships withered. War reporting was physically, emotionally, and financially draining-and disillusioning. Loosely based on the web comic of the same name, with extensive new material, War Is Boring takes us to Lebanon and Somalia; to arms bazaars across the United States; to Detroit, as David tries to reconnect with his family-and to Chad, as David attempts to bring attention to the Darfur genocide. Watch a Video less...
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Amazon Says: A stunning graphic adaptation of one of the most famous, contested, and important books of all time.Few books have been as controversial or as historically significant as Char more...
Amazon Says: A stunning graphic adaptation of one of the most famous, contested, and important books of all time.Few books have been as controversial or as historically significant as Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. Since the moment it was released on November 24, 1859, Darwin’s masterwork has been heralded for changing the course of science and condemned for its implied challenges to religion. In Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, author Michael Keller and illustrator Nicolle Rager Fuller introduce a new generation of readers to the original text. Including sections about his pioneering research, the book’s initial public reception, his correspondence with other leading scientists, as well as the most recent breakthroughs in evolutionary theory, this riveting, beautifully rendered adaptation breathes new life into Darwin’s seminal and still polarizing work. less...
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Amazon Says: The Stuff of Life gives readers a complete introduction to the history of genetics that's as easy to understand as it is entertaining to read. more...
Amazon Says: The Stuff of Life gives readers a complete introduction to the history of genetics that's as easy to understand as it is entertaining to read. less...
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Amazon Says: Megumi is an all-star athlete, but she's a failure when it comes to physics class. And she can't concentrate on her tennis matches when she's worried about the questions she m more...
Amazon Says: Megumi is an all-star athlete, but she's a failure when it comes to physics class. And she can't concentrate on her tennis matches when she's worried about the questions she missed on the big test! Luckily for her, she befriends Ryota, a patient physics geek who uses real-world examples to help her understand classical mechanics-and improve her tennis game in the process! In The Manga Guide to Physics, you'll follow alongside Megumi as she learns about the physics of everyday objects like roller skates, slingshots, braking cars, and tennis serves. In no time, you'll master tough concepts like momentum and impulse, parabolic motion, and the relationship between force, mass, and acceleration. You'll also learn how to: Apply Newton's three laws of motion to real-life problems Determine how objects will move after a collision Draw vector diagrams and simplify complex problems using trigonometry Calculate how an object's kinetic energy changes as its potential energy increases If you're mystified by the basics of physics or you just need a refresher, The Manga Guide to Physics will get you up to speed in a lively, quirky, and practical way. less...
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Amazon Says: A documentary is being filmed. A cell phone rings, playing the Rocky theme song. The filmmaker is told she must pay $10,000 to clear the rights to the song. Can this be true? more...
Amazon Says: A documentary is being filmed. A cell phone rings, playing the Rocky theme song. The filmmaker is told she must pay $10,000 to clear the rights to the song. Can this be true? Eyes on the Prize, the great civil rights documentary, was pulled from circulation because the filmmakers’ rights to music and footage had expired. What’s going on here? It’s the collision of documentary filmmaking and intellectual property law, and it’s the inspiration for this comic book. Follow its heroine Akiko as she films her documentary and navigates the twists and turns of intellectual property. Why do we have copyrights? What’s “fair use”? Bound by Law? reaches beyond documentary film to provide a commentary on the most pressing issues facing law, art, property, and an increasingly digital world of remixed culture.Readers can download a pdf of the book here. less...
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Amazon Says: A westerner's visit into North Korea, told in the form of a graphic novel. Famously referred to as one of the "Axis of Evil" countries, North Korea remains one of the most se more...
Amazon Says: A westerner's visit into North Korea, told in the form of a graphic novel. Famously referred to as one of the "Axis of Evil" countries, North Korea remains one of the most secretive and mysterious nations in the world today. In early 2001 cartoonist Guy Delisle became one of the few Westerners to be allowed access to the fortresslike country. While living in the nation's capital for two months on a work visa for a French film animation company, Delisle observed what he was allowed to see of the culture and lives of the few North Koreans he encountered; his findings form the basis of this remarkable graphic novel. Pyongyang is an informative, personal, and accessible look at a dangerous and enigmatic country. less...
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Amazon Says: If you have ever suspected that "heavy water" is the title of a bootleg Pink Floyd album, believed that surface tension is an anxiety disorder, or imagined that a noble gas is more...
Amazon Says: If you have ever suspected that "heavy water" is the title of a bootleg Pink Floyd album, believed that surface tension is an anxiety disorder, or imagined that a noble gas is the result of a heavy meal at Buckingham Palace, then you need The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry to set you on the road to chemical literacy.You don't need to be a scientist to grasp these and many other complex ideas, because The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry explains them all: the history and basics of chemistry, atomic theory, combustion, solubility, reaction stoichiometry, the mole, entropy, and much more—all explained in simple, clear, and yes, funny illustrations. Chemistry will never be the same! less...
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Amazon Says: This original graphic novel features famous women scientists including Marie Curie, Emmy Noether, Lise Meitner, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock, Birute Galdikas, and Hed more...
Amazon Says: This original graphic novel features famous women scientists including Marie Curie, Emmy Noether, Lise Meitner, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock, Birute Galdikas, and Hedy Lamarr. The stories offer a human context often missing when we learn about the discoveries attached to these scientists' names. Readers, drawn in by the compelling anecdotes, will discover intriguing characters. End notes and references will lead them to further information on the scientists they've read about. less...
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