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Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science Hardcover – 18 Dec 2014

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 880 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA (18 Dec. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199925194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199925193
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 5.6 x 16.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 672,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


magisterial biography (London Review of Books)

David Todes has spent more then twenty years with his subject, and has evidently approached his task with the same dedication that Pavlov kept up through his many decades in the lab. Tode's sources range from the whimsical and self-revealing "journal" with which Pavlov wooed his future wife in 1879 to NKVD surveillance reports on his mood more than half a century later, from documents on the student Pavlov's very first research into nervous control of the organs to taped interviews with his co-workers several decades after his death. The result is history of science at its intricate best. (Stephen Lovell, The Times Literary Supplement)

Well written, thoroughly researched and extremely readable... (Biologist)

Daniel P. Todes achieves a level of mastery that transforms biography into history... an exemplary work of scholarship (Science, Stephen T. Casper)

a colossal work of scholarship and imagination (Raymond Tallis, Book of the Year 2014, Times Literary Supplement)

Profoundly researched, densely detailed and likely to be definitive (Nature)

About the Author

Daniel P. Todes is Professor, Institute of History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University

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Top Customer Reviews

By Amanda Jenkinson TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Magisterial is really the word that this long, detailed and painstakingly researched biography cries out for. It covers everything anyone could possibly want to know about the great Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov – and a lot more besides. Comprehensive, authoritative, packed with notes and references, it covers Pavlov’s private, public and political life as well as his scientific work. From a personal point of view, I found there was just too much science but for anyone interested in his work the book is a wonderful resource. It’s an academic rather than a popular biography, and will no doubt prove invaluable to all Pavlov scholars.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 8 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very much in depth analysis 25 Oct. 2015
By Ivan Pavlov - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A wonderful, if exceptionally long and detailed examination of the life of Pavlov. I have been to Pavlov's apartment in St. Petersburg and to Koltushi, and can find nothing wrong with Todes descriptions. Yet, I always wonder when I read biographies filled with many sentences like - He was feeling sad on the train ride -or- He was in great conflict about the affair. These are not real sentences from the book, but represent a common type of sentence in the book. Although Todes gives us the references for his descriptions, I wonder if we can truly understand internally felt emotions in another human being, that occurred many years ago, in a different language. But, to be fair, Todes notes in the beginning that this book is HIS analysis of Pavlov's life. With that said, it was an excellent read.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A long book that could and should have been longer 20 Feb. 2015
By Fibonacci - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is many books in one: a biography of Ivan Pavlov is only one of them. It is also a history of medicine, and a history of science in Russian through turbulent times. And it is a detailed study of Pavlov's experiments, and his theories, and how they evolved over the course of his long career.
The book is long too, but I wish it were even longer, going back further in medical history, for just one example. I wish too that the author had elaborated more than he did (in just the last chapter) on the significance of Pavlov's ideas today as we still struggle to decipher the mind-body interface.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, extremely detailed information on Pavlov's life and studies 19 Jan. 2015
By Hsw - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book as a gift for my father (we are both neuroscientists!) after reading a mostly glowing review in the New Yorker, and so far the book has not disappointed. It is a long and thorough read (nearly 900 pages) detailing both Pavlov's personal life and his research experiences.

For all the depth the book goes into, some care could have been taken to edit out some details (or to put them into a better organized appendix). In terms of personal details, the book goes into depth about random facts such as how much tea Pavlov drank and how he planted his garden-- pieces of information that would have been more interesting in moderation. Similar detail goes into descriptions of Pavlov's research, albeit I believe it is more warranted here. One section that was highlighted in the New Yorker review, and that is representative, is as follows:

"The total amount of secretion in trials 6 and 8 is too low, and the slope of these curves diverges markedly at several points from that in trial 1. Trial 9 fits trial 1 more snugly than does trial 5 in terms of total secretion, but the amount of secretion more than doubles in the second hour, contrasting sharply with the slight decline in trial 1. Trial 10 is again a good fit in terms of total amount of secretion, but the amount of secretion rises inappropriately in the fourth hour.”

The parts of the book about Pavlov's experiences in Communist Soviet Union were especially interesting. This book is a must buy for any scientist, science historian, or student of Russian history.
5.0 out of 5 stars A great and exhaustive book 9 Nov. 2015
By Max Trudolyubov - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A great and exhaustive book. I am nether a doctor, nor a physiologist but the figure of Pavlov is super important in Russian history in the way he transcended scholarly boundaries and the Russian and Soviet ideological divisions. The guy was a true maverick. Pavlov is one of the faces of the original modernist Russian project that was mishandled and killed by Stalin.
5.0 out of 5 stars Riding the Extraordinary Waves of History in Russian Science 28 May 2015
By Susan Southworth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
An absolutely stunning biography!
The meticulous research shows in every detail. Yet the author deploys his expertise to the service of an enthralling narrative. The daily life of Pavlov during the best of times as well as the suffering in crises is described as never before, shedding light on the experiences of other scientists as well.
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