NIELS BOHR

GENTLE GENIUS OF DENMARK

In the Makers of Modern Science series, a readable, somewhat uninspired, biography of the ``father of the atom'' and, as mentor, the central figure in the heroic age of atomic physics. Following an evocative account of Bohr's upbringing in Denmark, Spangenburg and Moser (The History of Science in the Eighteenth Century, 1993) describe the evolution of Bohr's model of the atom, introduce the ideas of Planck and Einstein in the process, then sketch a brief, accessible history of quantum mechanics. In each successive context, Bohr appears as an unparalleled source of influence and inspiration for the people around him, and readers meet a number of them (Rutherford, Einstein, Pauli, Schrîdinger, Heisenberg, Born), as thinkers and as personalities. While the book conveys a coherent impression of the atmosphere in which Bohr worked in the 1920s and '30s, it fizzles in its treatment of the last 20 years of Bohr's life, a dull transcription of his itinerary as lecturer and activist, good only for copying into book reports. Overall, the work is rather spineless, and the whole is less than the sum of its parts: several loosely linked sections, each one pointing in a different direction. In the end, the book does the job; it's a life well worth knowing. (index, bibliography, glossary) (Biography. 11+)

Pub Date: July 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8160-2938-5

Page Count: 111

Publisher: Facts On File

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1995

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Conversational, sometimes playful—not the sort of book that would survive vetting by school-system censors these days, but a...

A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE WORLD

A lovely, lively historical survey that takes in Neanderthals, Hohenzollerns and just about everything in between.

In 1935, Viennese publisher Walter Neurath approached Gombrich, who would go on to write the canonical, bestselling Story of Art, to translate a history textbook for young readers. Gombrich volunteered that he could do better than the authors, and Neurath accepted the challenge, provided that a completed manuscript was on his desk in six weeks. This book, available in English for the first time, is the happy result. Gombrich is an engaging narrator whose explanations are charming if sometimes vague. (Take the kid-friendly definition of truffles: “Truffles,” he says, “are a very rare and special sort of mushroom.” End of lesson.) Among the subjects covered are Julius Caesar (who, Gombrich exults, was able to dictate two letters simultaneously without getting confused), Charlemagne, the American Civil War, Karl Marx, the Paris Commune and Kaiser Wilhelm. As he does, he offers mostly gentle but pointed moralizing about the past, observing, for instance, that the Spanish conquest of Mexico required courage and cunning but was “so appalling, and so shaming to us Europeans that I would rather not say anything more about it,” and urging his young readers to consider that perhaps not all factory owners were as vile as Marx portrayed them to be, even though the good owners “against their conscience and their natural instincts, often found themselves treating their workers in the same way”—which is to say, badly.

Conversational, sometimes playful—not the sort of book that would survive vetting by school-system censors these days, but a fine conception and summarizing of the world’s checkered past for young and old.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2005

ISBN: 0-300-10883-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

MISSISSIPPI TRIAL, 1955

Historical fiction examines the famous case of Emmett Till, whose murder was one of the triggers of the civil-rights movement. Hiram Hillburn knows R.C. Rydell is evil. He watches R.C. mutilate a catfish, but does nothing to stop him. “I didn’t want to end up like that fish,” he says. He watches R.C. throw stones at a neighbor’s house and humiliate 14-year-old Emmett Till, an African-American visitor from Chicago, and still he does nothing. Hiram says, “When things are scary or dangerous, it’s hard to see clear what to do.” When Till is brutally murdered, Hiram is sure R.C. is involved. Hiram, a white teenager who has come back to the Mississippi town where his father grew up, is the narrator and the perspective of the white outsider and the layers of his moral reflection make this an excellent examination of a difficult topic. When the case comes to trial, Hiram knows he must face his own trial: can he stand up to evil and do the right thing? He knows Mr. Paul, the local storeowner, is right: “Figure out what’s right and what’s wrong, and make yourself do the right thing. Do that and no matter what happens, no matter what people say, you’ll have no regrets.” This is a complicated thing to do, as Hiram must summon inner strength and come to terms with who he is—the son of an English professor who hates everything about the South and the grandson of a farmer who loves everything about it. Teen readers will find themselves caught up in Hiram’s very real struggle to do the right thing. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2745-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more