A solid introduction for those who know little about the long-term impact of women in science.



A lively, readable account of the lives and work of 10 groundbreaking female scientists.

Popular science writers Whitlock (co-author: Meet Your Bacteria, 2018) and Evans (Astrophotography, 2017, etc.) focus on women who were born in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and who therefore worked in a scientific environment where women were even more rare than they are now. Among their subjects are those who will be familiar to most readers, such as Marie Curie and environmentalist Rachel Carson, and those who are not household names, including pharmaceutical scientist Gertrude Elion, who won a Nobel Prize for her work on the development of several drugs, and astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, who “discovered a way of ranking stars' magnitudes using photographic plates, which became a standard in the field.” The authors also explore the lives and work of nutritionist Elsie Widdowson, who helped develop the World War II ration diet and the technique of fortifying foods such as bread, and Dorothy Hodgkin, who won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for revealing the structure of penicillin and vitamin B12. Rather than whitewashing the sometimes less-than-heroic details of their subjects' lives, Whitlock and Evans treat them as “ordinary women who, often via rather circuitous routes and not without their fair share of mishaps, disasters, and family tragedies, did extraordinary things.” The authors neatly summarize their subjects' lives from cradle to grave and delve into their work and its importance, explaining the details clearly without oversimplifying them. Although it is not always obvious why they have selected these 10 women rather than others, and they seem to almost go out of their way to avoid noting similarities among their subjects, they provide 10 memorable portraits that may contain even a few surprises for scholars of these important pioneers.

A solid introduction for those who know little about the long-term impact of women in science.

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63576-610-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Diversion Books

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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