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Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie Hardcover – 7 Jan 2005


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; 1st Edition edition (7 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297847678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297847670
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.8 x 22 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,145,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"[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 )

Book Description

'[E]xcellent short biography of Marie Curie¿. [A] poignant-and scientifically lucid-portrait.' NEW YORK TIMES --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mr P R Morgan on 31 Jan 2007
Format: Paperback
The title is both descriptive, and very apt, for it sums up the story of this remarkable lady in two words. Barbara Goldsmith gets under the façade of Marie Curie, and gives some thoughtful insights into her life, and perhaps the reasons she worked in the way that she did. For, make no mistake, here was a very purposeful, driven lady.

Most would know Curie as a scientist, the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize (in 1903, jointly with her husband and Henri Becquerel) but also one of very few to have been awarded this accolade twice. Her second award was an individual award (after the untimely death of Pierre), announced just before a scandal broke in France concerning her relationship with another in the field of radioactivity. Goldsmith gives a more rounded picture than the usual view, concentrating both on her achievements, and her short-comings.

After her rise to prominence with the isolation of radium and polonium (named in honour of her homeland and beloved Poland), Curie was there to be shot at. She was successful, and she was a woman. Society delights in bringing such individuals down, but Curie's behaviour would have attracted scant attention in a man. Goldsmith goes some way to disentangling the woman from the myth, which was perversely a myth that Marie Curie deliberately fostered.

Curie is remembered for radium, but Goldsmith also highlights her contribution to the development of x-ray technology, particularly mobile x-ray in the First World War. She was also a noted peace activist, and a campaigner for women's rights, and is held aloft as an inspiration to women the world over. But Curie was intensely driven, at the expense of both her family, and those she worked with.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christian Jongeneel on 21 Jan 2008
Format: Hardcover
It took two years to reduce the radioactivity of Marie Curie's papers enough to make them suitable for human handling and still researchers have to sign a paper they are doing so on their own risk. Barbara Goldsmith took this risk. And wrote a fascinating biography of a not too likeable woman.

For Marie Curie, born to a poor household in Poland, was obsessed with her research, which would earn her two Nobels. When her daughter Irene was born she immediately initiated a log, as if the girl were a scientific experiment. Everything was futile but the search for knowledge. Eventually Marie Curie were to die of leukemia, likely as a result of radioactivity.

Mrs Goldsmith obviously has gone through great lengths to research this portrait of a brilliant woman. Flattering it is not, but the pages ooze with character.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. E. Ackerman on 13 Dec 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to say that my title is slightly bias as Marie Curie is one of my personal hero's. However this is a beautiful story and it very well writen. I'd recommend it to anyone. Lovely read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By burkovich on 14 Jun 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very interesting lady - obsessive and passionate about her work. I found Marie Curie's life inspiring. The book was well written. Highly recommended
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By monica on 11 Sep 2009
Format: Paperback
Another review has summed up the content well. The book was quite interesting, but not fascinating; it described what Curie was like, but in a rather two-dimensional way; it dealt with a bit of Curie's scientific work, but not in great depth. I'm glad to have learned more about Curie's life and of how strenuously she strove to succeed--and of how much would have been lost had she as a foreigner and a woman been kept in her 'place'--but on the whole the book strikes me as being best suited to teen-agers with an interest in science.
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