There's a chance to interest laymen in a great personality in the field of science through this fictionized biography. To scientists, Mendeleyev is known as the chemist who created the periodic table of the elements, an extraordinary feat of organisation and intuition which helped scientists predict and discover many of the chemical elements...To historians he is known as the man whose research saved Tsarist Russia's agriculture and created her oil industry..To feminists, he deserves note as the chemistry professor at Moscow University who insisted that women be permitted to enroll in his classes, who later forced the government to hire women technicians...To the movie fan, the incidents of his life are dramatic enough for a shooting script. Narly struggles, a pallid loveless marriage for 20 years, then a violent love affair at 43 with a 19-year old art student, divorce, and a remarkably happy second marriage -- four children- great honors and success. There's even something for the air-minded, an incredible solo balloon flight to observe a solar eclipse. There was so much richness to the man's life that we can forgive the author's over-sentimental, sprawling style, for it somehow suits the colorful, mystic, sensual background of 19th century feudal Russia where he grew up -- and in whose transformation he exerted so profound an effect.