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4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable, readable account of 20th-Century physics, 12 May 2013
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Physicists (Paperback)
I first read this book 30 years or so ago and enjoyed it very much as a readable and informative survey of 20th-Century physics and the people who developed it, including the development of the atom bomb and it is still very good.

CP Snow was a fine scientist himself and also a very accomplished novelist, so this is a very well-informed and well written account. It is often anecdotal and discursive. We get a good account of the science, written in terms a lay person could follow, and insights into the lives and characters of the scientists themselves. There is some pretty well-known stuff, like the famous walk in the snow by Lise Meitner and her nephew Otto Frisch which yielded the idea of nuclear fission, but also smaller, more intimate insights and personal sketches - often of people whom Snow knew personally.

This was the last thing Snow wrote and is a draft completed just before his death in 1980 of a planned longer work. It works very well as it is and its concision is a bonus, I think - Snow could be somewhat long-winded for my taste and this is admirably to the point throughout. The book won't serve as a definitive history, but is an excellent and enjoyable overview, very well illustrated with photographs. I had studied a lot of this stuff in some depth but still enjoyed it a great deal, and it would be an excellent introduction for the non-scientist. Recommended.
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The Physicists
The Physicists by Charles Percy Snow (Paperback - 23 Sept. 2008)
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