More of a chronicle than an autobiography, Stacey’s work gives readers a look into his development from a Southern boy to a life of applied nuclear physics.
Part autobiography, part family history, even part brief history of physics, this book follows Stacey from his early days as a boy more concerned with fishing and football than physics. Starting as far back as 1621, he traces the history, tales and adventures of his family in and around (for the most part) the state of Georgia. Most accounts stay close to his immediate family, paying special attention to persons (such as his aunt) who have played a formative role in his life. With brief, at times humorous, stories throughout, the author paints a vivid picture. The middle of the book moves on to his career in industry and academia, and friends, family, books and other assorted facts complete this work. It’s the first part of Stacey’s book, the many varied stories and events from his youth, that most readers should find of interest; whereas, though many scientific ideas are simplified for the layman, there are many places (such as his discussion of fusion reactors) where many readers might find the text challenging. This is not to exclude the latter half of the book; his insider’s view of the politics and problems in academia and the “publish or perish” world should find a wide, interested audience. The book could have been fleshed out a bit more in spots, especially regarding Stacey’s personal life. His divorce, for instance, is mentioned almost in passing after so much time is spent telling readers about his wife.
Though perhaps at times there is a bit of overkill on the facts and at other times a paucity of them, with this book readers get a firsthand look into a physicist’s life.