A slightly uneven but uniquely human look at a brilliant scientific family.



An intimate portrait of the professional and private lives of legendary scientist Marie Curie and her daughters, Irène and Eve.

Journalist Emling (The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World, 2009, etc.) opens with Marie receiving her second Nobel Prize a few years after the death of husband, Pierre, with whom she shared her first Nobel. While many Curie biographies pay scant attention to this last quarter-century of her life, Emling explores the later years of “the woman, mother, and friend behind the pioneering scientist,” bolstered by the Curie family’s personal letters, given to the author by Curie’s granddaughter, Hélène Langevin-Joliot. Emling describes Curie’s life trying to balance the demands of her scientific research with the needs of her two daughters. At the time of her second Nobel, Curie’s career was nearly derailed when news emerged of an affair between her and a married former student, physicist Paul Langevin. Although the scandal died down eventually, Curie would remain wary of journalists for the rest of her life, save one: American magazine editor and socialite Marie “Missy” Meloney, who befriended Curie and brought her to America as part of a campaign to raise funds for Curie’s Radium Institute. Emling explores in full the scientific career of Curie's daughter Irène; working together, Irène and her husband followed in her parents’ footsteps, sharing a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1935—an honor Marie did not live to see, having died the previous year. Unfortunately, Eve, the daughter who opted for a career as a musician and journalist, receives scant attention; Emling relegates the details of her life to a single chapter, which feels obligatory and tacked on.

A slightly uneven but uniquely human look at a brilliant scientific family.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-230-11571-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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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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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