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Customer reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
1

on 4 December 2004
Abe Pais was in hiding during WWII in Holland (actually just across the street from where Anna Frank was hiding); but he was a few years older than Anna Frank, and he survived. While in hiding, he studied physics.
That part of the story reads like a thriller. But the narrative throughout is compelling, and honest.
After the war, through a sequence of small miracles, and a stunning intelligence, he ended up in Copenhagen to work with Niels Bohr, and then to the US, at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, where he became a Professor. And in fact, he became a leading and exceptionally successful nuclear physicist.
Throughout his career as a physicist, he knew Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein well, and a host of the other pioneers; and he worked with them too. He is fluent in at least 7 languages, and knows many more. All of this is part of his autobiography, which is also filled with charming observations about cultural differences, and observation of human affairs; including affairs of the heart.
His whole life was divided between two Continents, hence the title of the book. But Abe Pais's life was divided in several other ways too: The first half was science, and the second writing. Marriages further marked dividing lines.
He wrote a number of extremely well received biographies, the best one perhaps `Subtle is the Lord' about Albert Einstein (I have a weakness for biographies!); and his last was his autobiography! In fact, he finished it only a few years before he died. The last 10 years of his life was spent in Denmark; so in some sense closing the circle.
Review by Palle Jorgensen, December 2004.
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