MONKEYS, MEN AND MISSILES: An Autobiography 1946-8 by Solly Zuckerman

MONKEYS, MEN AND MISSILES: An Autobiography 1946-8

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Part two of this energetic octogenarian scientist's life story (From Apes to Warlords, 1978). By 1946, Zuckerman had moved from Oxford to Birmingham to chair the university's department of anatomy--a post he was most emphatically urged to assume by LeGros Clark, the ruling eminence at Oxford, a man with little patience for the myriad extracurricular activities of his younger colleague. So Solly departed, reluctantly at first, but fast developing an affection for the university and city that would be his home for the next 25 years--that is, when he was not in London or Washington or Geneva or Cape Town pursuing the political, science, and social activities that came to dominate his long career. Zuckerman had already achieved a reputation as a smart scientist (primate physiology, especially reproductive) and a wise head in wartime--analyzing and advising on bombing strategies. Thus, he was on constant call by Whitehall, appointed to one committee after another dealing with nuclear weapons, science policy, relations with industry, environmental matters, etc. In the end, Zuckerman became a full-fledged civil servant: the science advisor to five prime ministers (but not without making a deal with Birmingham to maintain his chairmanship without salary). Zuckerman's strong opposition to nuclear arms as tactical as well as strategic weapons is a major theme of the volume, developed with rich details of the meetings and personae involved. The vicissitudes of British politics, stories of "Dickie" Mountbatten and the fall of Harold Wilson also provide a richness for scholars to mine. But for sheer Gilbert and Sullivan melodrama nothing can rival the account of the rebel faction of Fellows of the Zoological Society, who would not give up their private time at the London Zoo on Sundays to the general public. Solly in his role of Secretary of the Society, wins that one, too. Full of zest, just like its author's remarkable, productive happy life.

Pub Date: April 10th, 1989
ISBN: 393-02689-2
Publisher: Norton
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