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Good Reads  Natural History  Biography, Exploration & Travel

A Place in History The Biography of John C. Kendrew

By: Paul M Wassarman(Author)
325 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations
A Place in History
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  • A Place in History ISBN: 9780199732043 Hardback Jul 2020 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
Price: £34.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

John C. Kendrew (1917-1997) was a pioneer in structural biology and a catalyst for the emergence of molecular biology in the second half of the twentieth century. He was the first person to determine the three-dimensional structure of a protein at atomic resolution and, for this, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1962. Kendrew ultimately became an international organizer, administrator, and advocate for science, and his expansive legacy lives on today.

In A Place in History, Paul M. Wassarman, a postdoctoral fellow with Kendrew in the late 1960s, delves into Kendrew's personal and scientific life to uncover the background, traits, and experiences of the man responsible for so many achievements within science and beyond. Wassarman shares previously unpublished stories of Kendrew, including his vital role in the rise of molecular biology at three world-famous scientific institutions: the Cavendish Laboratory, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, and European Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

Kendrew was an unwavering advocate for British and European science and one of the most gifted, influential, and accomplished figures in twentieth century science. A Place in History is a groundbreaking account of Kendrew's life that is perfect for anyone interested in learning about the person behind the many achievements.


John Kendrew's Timeline
John Kendrew's Service
John Kendrew's Awards & Honors
Nobel Laureates Cited
British Peers & Knights Cited
Figures and Tables

Chapter 1. Introduction to John Kendrew
Chapter 2. Life, Traits, & Predilections
Chapter 3. Family, Parents, & Separation
Chapter 4. Formal Education (1924-1939)
Chapter 5. World War 2 Service (1939-1946)
Chapter 6. Cavendish, Peterhouse, & Myoglobin (1946-1962)
Chapter 7. Marriage & Divorce (1948-1956)
Chapter 8. Structure of Myoglobin (1957-1962)
Chapter 9. Journal of Molecular Biology (1957-1987)
Chapter 10. Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1962)
Chapter 11. The Old Guildhall, Linton (1964-1997)
Chapter 12. Laboratory of Molecular Biology (1962-1974)
Chapter 13. European Molecular Biology Laboratory (1962-1982)
Chapter 14. St. John's, Retirement, & Death (1982-1997)

A.1 Description of John Kendrew's Archives
A.2 John Kendrew's Obituaries (1997)
A.3 Preface to John Kendrew's PhD Thesis (1949)
A.4 John Kendrew's Scientific Publications (1940-1994)
A.5 John Kendrew's Science Article (1963)
A.6 Gunnar Hägg's Nobel Presentation Speech (1962)
A.7 John Kendrew's EMBL Agreement Speech (1973)

S.1 Books on Crystallography
S.2 Bibliography: Books, Reports, & Reviews

Name Index
Subject Index

Customer Reviews


Paul M. Wassarman is Professor of Cell, Developmental, and Regenerative Biology in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Series Editor for Current Topics in Developmental Biology. Wassarman has authored more than 225 scientific papers and reviews, edited over a dozen books, and co-authored A Guide to Zona Pellucida Domain Proteins.

By: Paul M Wassarman(Author)
325 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations
Media reviews

"Wassarman has done a remarkable job in producing a rich story catching many aspects of Kendrew's life. The book provides many new insights and is an enjoyable reading. We should be very grateful for the extensive research done to produce a book of this quality."
– Anders Liljas, Crystallography Reviews

"This superb biography provides a fascinating insight into the development of the field of molecular biology in the last century [...] Kendrew was a difficult man to know personally. Paul Wasserman, who worked as a post-doctoral fellow with Kendrew, provides a glimpse into the life and career of a great pioneer in molecular biology, as well as the lives of other important scientists of that era. This biographical work is comprehensive, well referenced, and contains many photographs, but it is also peppered with anecdotes, making it an interesting read. The appendices include a description of Kendrew's archives, published obituaries, and papers. The book also boasts a comprehensive bibliography. It is a superb work of scholarship and a fascinating read."
– Dr Arpan Banerjee, Hektoen International Journal

"This volume presents the first book-length account of Kendrew's life and career, including relatively obscure biographical details and how he arrived at groundbreaking conclusions about myoglobin by employing early computers in crystallography [...] The biographer's archival research and interviews enable many insights into Kendrew's personality and character [...] Wassarman's prose is carefully edited and readable, and the technical information is accessible."
– A. K. Ackerberg-Hastings, CHOICE

"In this wide-ranging and detailed biography, Wassarman captures Kendrews outstanding contributions and sympathetically illuminates the personality of an essentially private man."
– Tony Crowther, FRS, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

"This fascinating biography brings together the public and the private persona to reveal a man who was meticulous, tenacious, and passionate."
– Paul Harris, FBA, Harvard University

"John Kendrew was a visionary with a deep understanding of science, people, and politics. Paul Wassarman has now produced, in this sensitive and perceptive biography, a superbly well-researched account of the life and times of a great man."
– Richard Henderson, FRS, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 2017

"Paul Wassarman's biography provides the links and insight that help explain Kendrews initial professional passion, that is for research, then his rapid transformation, following his success with the myoglobin structure, into the spokesperson for the internationalization of European life science in the service of peace. As one of his successors at EMBL, I found the insight into his character and motivations fascinating."
– Iain Mattaj, FRS, Foundation Human Technopole

"Seldom have I encountered a biography which is both comprehensive and teeming with fascinating information told with exceptional felicity. This elegant book, accessible to non-scientists, deserves to be widely read."
– Sir John Meurig Thomas, FRS, University of Cambridge

"John Kendrew was one of the most formidable of modern British scientists. He has, however, hitherto had no full-scale biography. Paul Wassarman has written an absorbing study of a man whose life is in many ways central to contemporary British life and culture."
– Ross McKibbin,FBA, University of Oxford

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