Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie CurieA new book from Barbara Goldsmith
THE MYTH OF MARIE CURIE -- Penniless Polish immigrant who through genius and obsessive persistence endured years of toil and deprivation to produce radium, a luminous panacea for all the world's ills, including cancer -- has obscured the remarkable truth behind her discoveries. Marie Curie's shrewd though controversial insight was that radioactivity was an atomic property that could be used to discover new elements. While her work won her two Nobel Prizes and transformed our world, it did not liberate her from the prejudices of either the male-dominated scientific community or society.
In Obsessive Genius, the acclaimed author and historian Barbara Goldsmith has discovered the woman behind the icon we have come to believe in -- an all-too-human woman trying to balance a spectacular scientific career with the obligations of family, the prejudice of society, the constant search for adequate funding, and the battle for recognition.
Using original research (diaries, letters, and family interviews) to peel away the layers of myth, Goldsmith offers a dazzling portrait of Marie Curie, her amazing discoveries, and the immense price she paid for fame.
"An uncommonly heartfelt and empathic profile of a scientific hero."
-- TIMOTHY FERRIS, author of Coming of Age in the Milky Way and Seeing the Dark
"History has treated Marie Curie as a mysterious genius as if she sprang full blown from the head of Zeus--or perhaps her husband. Barbara Goldsmith gives us a flesh-and-blood woman whose life and work will inspire our own. Marie Curie was the brilliant discoverer of radium and the radioactivity crucial to modern science. Barbara Goldsmith is the brilliant discoverer of Marie Curie."
-- GLORIA STEINEM
"Barbara Goldsmith has written a superb study of a fascinating and historically important woman whose life is a great deal more interesting than the myth it inspired. Obsessive Genius is an obsessive read,"
-- GAY TALESE
"Great lives in science are all about passion and curiosity. Marie Curie, the Polish-born discoverer of radium, had both in grand measure. But down the road that she helped open lay nuclear energy, which meant atomic bombs, and which put Curie center stage during one of the great turning points in human history. Barbara Goldsmith has uniquely captured the woman and her science."
-- THOMAS POWERS, author of Heisenberg's War
"Barbara Goldsmith has done the near impossible in Obsessive Genius, her remarkably moving and surprising biography of Madame Curie. She never loses the Luddite reader like me in a hopeless morass of scientific details. Instead, she makes the scientific information sparkle with the same clarity that matches her telling the accomplishments and strange celebrity of the woman who founded the modern science of radioactivity. This is a book to buy for yourself and then buy ten more copies to give as presents to grateful friends."
-- JOHN GUAR