Mendeleyev's successful tabulation of the elements together with his assignment of atomic weights and his allowances for elements not yet discovered was a triumph of organization and a genius stroke of intuition. Would that the same could be said for his biographer here. As to organization, the book could be taken down to chapter length in terms of the new information or insight offered. As to intuitions the flights of fiction supplied for dialogue and Mendeleyev's thoughts add no color to either his character or to the mad Russian landscape of the late 19th century. Mendeleyev had a surprising second marriage of the May-December variety, but it is recorded here in cello sad tones. Speculation played a large part in Mendeleyev's career, but the author shuns any speculation about the essentially humorous contrasts in Mendeleyev's life -- i.e., his attempt to teach suspicious peasants scientific farming; his battle to get women admitted to the universities of Czarist Russia; his on-the-spot study of the capricious infant American oil industry. What's the atomic weight for Slavic gloom? It is an unfortunate result in view of the author's extensive working bibliography.