Krull profiles 20 scientists—warning away at the outset anyone interested in the actual details of their discoveries because here, she’s all about dishing on their lives and egos instead.
Though in other works she focuses on scientific achievements, here Krull caters to readers less interested in Einstein’s explanation of the photoelectric effect than that he had an affair with his cousin or in Newton’s laws of physics than his practice, as warden of the Royal Mint, of attending the hangings of convicted counterfeiters. The author presents a series of quick biographical sketches, most capped with “Extra Credit” comments about each subject’s enduring legacy—or, in the case of Einstein’s brain and Galileo’s fingers, errant body parts. Though all but two are dead (and the exceptions, Jane Goodall and James D. Watson, are no spring chickens), her choices for inclusion are reasonably diverse. Ibn Sina, George Washington Carver, and one ancient and one modern scientist of Asian descent expand the Eurocentric roster of usual suspects. Also, six women claim unique or shared entries, and several influential others, such as astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt, earn mentions. Hewitt adds typically funny, bigheaded but recognizable caricature portraits and iconic interior vignettes to lighten the informational load further.
Mightily entertaining and if unlikely to broaden a young reader’s knowledge of the history of science, certain to humanize it. (reading list, no source notes or index) (Collective biography. 9-12)