Marie Curie was long idealized as a selfless and dedicated scientist, not entirely of this world. But Quinn's Marie Curie is, on the contrary, a woman of passion — born in Warsaw under the repressive regime of the Russian czars, outspokenly committed to the cause of a free Poland, deeply in love with her husband Pierre but also, after his tragic death, capable of loving a second time and of standing up against the cruel, xenophobic attacks which resulted from that love. This biography gives a full and lucid account of Marie and Pierre Curie’s scientific discoveries, placing them within the revelatory discoveries of the age. At the same time, it provides a vivid account of Marie Curie’s practical genius: the X-Ray mobiles she created to save French soldiers' lives during World War I, as well as her remarkable ability to raise funds and create a laboratory that drew researchers to Paris from all over the world. It is a story which transforms Marie Curie from an bloodless icon into a woman of passion and courage.
"Quinn's portrait of Curie is rich and captivating. Quinn strives to peel back... layers of myth and idealization that have grown up around the physicist... She succeeds beautifully. Quinn has written a worthy successor to her previous work, the award-winning biography of American psychiatrist Karen Horney." — Washington Post Book World (page 1)
"A touching, three-dimensional portrait of the Polish-born scientist and two-time Nobel Prize winner." — Kirkus
"I've read many biographies of Marie Curie and Susan Quinn's is magnificent. It's so complete and so evocative that I can't imagine anyone coming away from reading it without feeling they actually know Marie Curie." — Alan Alda
"Quinn portrays a woman who was both independent and ambitious, in a society that was unprepared for either. The result is a fresh, powerful new biography of a very human Marie Curie... This is an exemplary work, rich in the details and connections that bring a person and her era to life. It is certain to be this generations' definitive biography of Marie Curie." — Science
"Quinn breaks ground in her detailed description, drawn from newly available papers, of Marie's life after Pierre's accidental death in 1906. At first so grief-stricken she neglected her two daughters, Irene and Eve, Marie later had a love affair with French scientist Paul Langevin. Because Langevin was married, Marie was vilified by the French press and was almost denied the 1911 Nobel Prize for chemistry." —Publishers Weekly
"Susan Quinn's excellent biography gives a lucid account of Curie's contribution to our understanding of 'things'... but Quinn also draws on new material to paint a more rounded and attractive picture of Curie the person... For Marie, the enchantment of her science never waned, and it is this enchantment which Quinn's biography communicates so well." — London Observer
Quinn (A Mind of Her Own: The Life of Karen Horney) presents here a carefully researched, well-rounded study of Curie (1867-1934), the physicist credited with isolating radium. Born Marie Sklodowska in Poland, she left her home to study in Paris, where she met and married physics professor Pierre Curie. Agreeing with earlier accounts, Quinn depicts their marriage as a devoted partnership. The Curies together made an investigation of radioactivity, for which they shared the 1903 Nobel Prize for physics. But Quinn breaks ground in her detailed description, drawn from newly available papers, of Marie's life after Pierre's accidental death in 1906. At first so grief-stricken she neglected her two daughters, Irene and Eva, Marie later had a love affair with French scientist Paul Langevin. Because Langevin was married, Marie was vilified by the French press and was almost denied the 1911 Nobel Prize for chemistry. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC, History Book Club and QPB alternates.
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Marie Curie: A Life
I stand, as a woman who was allowed to study chemistry, and then became a physician, on the shoulders of this giant. Yet, until Susan Quinn’s book, I knew almost nothing about her astonishing body of work and the seemingly insurmountable odds she faced, endured, and overcame. Quinn focuses mainly on the physics—which is simply and wonderfully explained—but also includes enough about the person of Madame Curie to put in context her achievements. I got a little emotional at the end. Bravo to Madame Curie, and her biographer.
I love this book
Well told bio.
I was inspired to look up Madam Curie after Scientific American reprinted an article of her's (2 years before her Nobel Prize) on atomic structure and the explanations and questions that arise when a particle sheds from an atom and why there's no discernible lose to its mass or strength, etc.
You won't find any of this in this book. You will see her "life" and it is interesting and it was a difficult life for a private person who was most content to live it in a lab - though fame seemed to nearly end this - especially in this era.