Grand Obsession

Rosalynd Pflaum, Author, Rosalynd Pflaym, Author Doubleday Books $22.5 (496p) ISBN 978-0-385-26135-7
The Curie family produced two generations of scientists whose legacy, the discovery of radium and radioactivity, changed the world. Pflaum ( Mme. de Stael ) chronicles the Curies' tenacious and bone-wearying research efforts. While the technical descriptions of the Curies' experiments and theories are often tedious, Pflaum's detailed examination of the driven natures of Marie and Pierre Curie, their daughter Irene and son-in-law Fred Joliot is convincing. Oblivious or indifferent to the dangers of direct contact with radium, the Curies and their co-workers were chronically ill with ailments that now would be attributed to radiation poisoning. While the Curies and their children do not emerge as particularly warm or colorful, Pflaum makes clear how their ``grand obsession'' with research produced findings central to modern atomic science. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
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