A thoughtful and informative account of a scientific giant.



A biography focuses on one of the American physicists who confirmed the existence of neutrinos.

In 1956, Fred Reines and Clyde Cowan collaboratively made a discovery that changed the landscape of modern physics. They proved the existence of the neutrino, a subatomic particle so elusive Reines called it “ghostly.” The search for the neutrino was born out of the problem of understanding the decay of neutrons in the nuclei of radioactive atoms. How can a neutron, which has no electrical charge, get converted into an electron and proton, both of which are charged? Some speculated there must be an undetected particle in the mix that has no charge itself and no (or very low) mass. Reines and Cowan devised a way to demonstrate the existence of such particles, which are paradoxically everywhere but all but invisible. For this groundbreaking achievement, Reines would eventually share the Nobel Prize in physics with Martin L. Perl in 1995. (Cowan died in 1974.) Cole chronicles Reines’ extraordinary accomplishment in all its iterations. At one point, Reines thought a nuclear explosion could expose the hidden neutrino, a brilliant, if impractical, hypothesis. The author also charts Reines’ early life (Growing up in a “household environment in which erudition and accomplishment were so highly prized might have intimidated some youngsters”) and an eventfully distinguished career that included working on the Manhattan Project. Cole deftly produces a “mixture of memoir and biography”—he is the younger cousin of the physicist—and, as a result, the entire work is infused with a spirit of loving admiration. Fully accounting for Reines’ brilliance requires a deep dive into some prohibitively technical subject matter, but the author manages it with remarkably accessible lucidity. In addition, he paints a full, rich portrait of Reines’ life that is not merely a catalog of professional achievements, chronicling his musical interests, his evolving thoughts on his own Jewish identity, and his admirable dedication to teaching. For all of his analytic rigor, Reines was at heart an idealist, a feature Cole vividly highlights: “Fred’s belief that science could eventually reveal the underpinnings of all physical mysteries is truly a matter of faith. His idealization of science was rooted in his teenage supposition nearly 40 years earlier that science could also end discrimination and injustice.”

A thoughtful and informative account of a scientific giant.

Pub Date: April 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-981-12-3105-6

Page Count: 300

Publisher: World Scientific Publishing Co

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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