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Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie

Biography / MemoirOut of Print

By: Barbara Goldsmith

483 pages, Illus

Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Paperback | Nov 2005 | #155405 | ISBN: 075381899X
Out of Print Details
Hardback | Dec 2005 | #155404 | ISBN: 0297847678
Out of Print Details

About this book

Marie Curie reamins the only woman to win two Nobel prizes - the first in 1903 for the discovery of radioactivity and the second in 1911 for the discovery of radium and polonium. Her discovery of radium opened the door to the exploration of the atom. What is even more remarkable is that the Nobel prize wasn't awarded to another woman until twenty years later, and it was Marie's daughter - Irene Joliot-Curie - who received it for discovering artificial radioactivity. In turn Irene's daughter, Helene Langevin-Joliot, helped create the first atomic pile in France. The legacy of Marie Curie, her daughter and grand-daughter makes for a fascinating story of the family who released the radioactivity that has transformed our world. Barbara Goldsmith takes these three generations and shows how their work led from a desire for the betterment of humanity through peaceful energy, medical treatments and industrial applications to the knowledge to creat the atom bomb and other weapons of mass destruction.

[E]xcellent short biography of Marie Curie... [A] poignant-and scientifically lucid-portrait. The New York Times "[N]ever a dull moment in this true tale, and Goldsmith's nostalgic yet matter-of-fact writing style blends well with her fascinating subject... Goldsmith leads the reader through a wonderland of facts with just the right blend of science and story. In the end, the mystery of the madame remains, but a deeper understanding of what she went through as a woman and a scientist shines as strong as her radium." The San Francisco Chronicle "[S]uccinct and well-told biography... If Ms. Goldsmith has demystified aspects of Marie Curie's life and work, she has also created a figure that seems an ever more towering force not merely in the history of science but in the annals of biography itself." The New York Sun "Opens the door on Curie as she opened the door on atomic science." Kirkus Reviews "Goldsmith offers a well-rounded view of her subject that makes good dramatic use of the considerable intrigue that surrounded Curie's scientific accomplishments and her private life." Publisher's Weekly "In this fascinating life of Madame Curie, Barbara Goldsmith powerfully conveys both the magic of science and the struggle of being a woman in a man's universe." -- Walter Isaacson Director - Aspen Institute for Physics "An uncommonly heartfelt and empathic profile of a scientific hero." -- Timothy Ferris "History has treated Marie Curie as a mysterious genius, as if she sprang full-blown from the head of Zeus-or perhaps her husband. Barbara Goldsmith gives us a flesh-and-blood woman whose life and work will inspire our own. Marie Curie was the brilliant discoverer of radium and the radioactivity crucial to modern science. Barbara Goldsmith is the brilliant discoverer of Marie Curie." -- Gloria Steinem "Great lives in science are all about passion and curiosity. Marie Curie, the Polish-born discoverer of radium, had both in grand measure. But down the road she helped open-up nuclear energy, which meant atomic bombs, and put Curie center stage during one of the great turning points in scientific history. Barbara Goldsmith has uniquely captured the woman and her science." -- Thomas Powers, author of Heisenberg's War "Obsessive Genius vividly portrays the powerful personal story of privation, sacrifice, triumph, and reward of one of the greatest scientists of the Twentieth Century, Marie Curie. It is a fast-paced exciting tale of scientific adventure which I read in one sitting. Barbara Goldsmith makes an important addition to her growing body of work on the life and accomplishments of women who have shaped our history and our lives." -- Dr. William Haseltine CEO Human Genome Sciences, Inc. "This short and highly readable biography of Marie Curie... tells an inspiring if often sad story, and tells it well: it's the old, old story of triumph over adversity." The Sunday Telegraph 'The tale of how she married [Pierre Curie's] technical expertise to her own dexterity and persistence to discover radioactivity is thrillingly told here.' The Guardian 'This wonderful book examines the scientific dynasty from both personal and professional angles.' Ham & High (4/02/05) 'This portrait of Marie Curie, the co-discoverer of radium, makes it plain how deep the prejudice against women in science ran.' FOCUS 'The book provides... a thoughtful perspective on the life of one of the most important scientists of the twentieth century... clear and accessible...' NATURE 'Reading this story, one cannot fail to be impressed by Marie Curie, and her daughter and grand-daughter... But the book is also a sad reminder that you can't put a genie back in its bottle.' LANCET

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Prize-winning author and social historian Barbara Goldsmith was born in New York City, graduated from Wellesley College, and holds three doctorates. A founding editor of New York magazine, she currently contributes to the New York Times, Architectural Digest, and The New Yorker. She is the author of the acclaimed bestsellers Little Gloria ... Happy At Last and Johnson v. Johnson. A trustee of the New York Public Library, Goldsmith also serves on the President's Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History.

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