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The Curies: A Biography of the Most Controversial Family in Science [Hardcover]

Denis Brian
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

16 Aug 2005
Focusing on the lives and relationships behind their magnificent careers, The Curies is the first biography to trace the entire Curie dynasty, from Pierre and Marie’s fruitful union and achievements to the lives and accomplishments of their two daughters, Irène and Eve, and son–in–law Frederic Joliot–Curie. Biographer Denis Brian digs deep beneath the headlines and legends to reveal the Curies’ multigenerational saga in its entirety, featuring new, never–before–published personal information as well as newly revealed correspondence and diary excerpts. Brimming with endearing and often amusing anecdotes about this much–misunderstood clan, The Curies reveals a family as closely intertwined in their private lives as they were in their professional endeavors.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (16 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471273910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471273912
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.6 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,220,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

" ...a fascinating and important story...I really did want to keep turning the page and found out more..." ( www.popularscience.co.uk , February 2006) "...a magnificent work..." ( New Scientist , October 2005)

From the Inside Flap

Awarded a combined total of six Nobel Prizes, the celebrated Curie family′s collective work and momentous achievements alone make their lives fascinating. But the lesser–known side of their story includes the controversy, the drama, the scandal, and the tragedy that surrounded them. Now, the first full–scale biography of the Curies provides a well–rounded, honest look at both the private and professional lives of the world′s most gifted scientific family. Drawing upon years of research, interviews, and correspondence with friends, family, and associates of the Curies, biographer Denis Brian provides intriguing insights into the entire Curie clan, including Pierre Curie′s father and grandfather, both gifted doctors who made their own considerable contributions in the field of science. You′ll learn how the brilliant though personally unambitious Pierre dealt with his fear of failure on the heels of his first major scientific breakthrough; why the deeply patriotic, driven, and highly intelligent Marie worked for years as a governess; and how the Nobel Prize money alleviated Marie and Pierre′s financial worries but created a new problem—the shattering of the couple′s privacy. You′ll also read about the scandal that erupted over Marie′s affair with one of Pierre′s students and how it nearly drove her to commit suicide, and about reports that son–in–law and lifelong pacifist Frederic Joliot–Curie helped the Soviet Union build its atom bomb. You′ll discover why daughter Eve was the only family member to eschew a life of science—and why daughter Irène followed in her mother′s footsteps, but feared always living in her mother′s shadow. The Curies also unravels the mysteries surrounding this intensely private family, including Pierre′s disdain for public recognition and how it stymied his professional advancement; the couple′s decision not to benefit financially from their discovery of radium; the Machiavellian plot devised to exclude Marie from being nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1903; the illnesses that plagued Pierre, Marie, and Irène as a result of their research; and Marie′s ongoing battle with France′s chauvinistic science community. Passionate, enlightening, and engaging, The Curies reveals a family as deeply devoted to their work as they were to each other, risking their lives to improve the lives of countless others.

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City workers in Paris removed a tree obscuring a view of Victor Hugo's home, placed baskets of flowers in front of it, decked the street with flags, and sanded it to prepare for a million marching feet. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the curies 30 July 2009
Format:Hardcover
This excellent book is really a multiple biography of the Curie dynasty that covers Pierre and Marie Curie their children Eve and Irene ,their parents and grandparents,various sisters and brothers and son in law Frederic-husband of Irene.
Inevitably the scientific exploits of Pierre and Marie are the most important events of the dynasty which led to the Nobel Prize in Physics for both parties in 1903 and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Marie in 1910.Unfortunately Pierre was killed in 1907 ending this important partnership.
The great animosity against Marie in the early 1900s which tried to make out she was only an assistant to Pierre was nothing to the vitriol directed at her in 1910 accusing her of an affair with one of her assistants.Aletter was sent by hrr detractors to the Nobel Committee saying that if Marie went to Stockholm for the prize giving there would be riots and the kinn-who presented the prizes- would be dishonoured but she did go and received a rapturous reception.
Marie died in1934 possibly due to the results of radium poisoning.
An interesting extension of the book records the activities of the son in law and his conversion to communism and the assistance he gave Russia in developing the atomic bomb.
This is a fascinating and well researched book which can be highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely great book! 12 July 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are enough books about Marie Curie, there is very little about her husband, none about her children. This book is about "Curie Clan" - two generations of great people and great scientists. The book finally addresses the controversy "what part of work was done by her and what by him", impact of parent's scientific achievements on Irene, and sad conversion of Joliot-Curie to Communism. Great reading, brings new lights to Marie Curie and her family, as well as social and scientific aspects of life during two generations
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book 29 April 2009
By J. CALDERON - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very good book, very good bibliographical investigation in writting this biography. I recommend this book for students and teachers of physics and chemistry as an element of motivation to the study of history and philosophy of science.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Curies 21 Jan 2010
By Adrienne E. Sanderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Curies tells the story of Madame Marie Curie and her husband, Pierre. This insightful volume goes back to when Marie and Pierre were very young and just starting out in laboratory experiments. A good read.
4.0 out of 5 stars History is made of people. 2 Aug 2013
By Gary Moffatt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is always a delight to me to gain insight into historical events through the people who took part in them.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 7 Dec 2014
By jean - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Reads well. outstanding scholarship.
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