Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Review: Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout
Author: Lauren Redniss
Length: 208 pages
Publisher: !T Books
Genre: Historical non-fiction, Biography
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
In 1891, 24 year old Marie, nEe Marya Sklodowska, moved from Warsaw to Paris, where she found work in the laboratory of Pierre Curie, a scientist engaged in research on heat and magnetism. They fell in love. They took their honeymoon on bicycles. They expanded the periodic table, discovering two new elements with startling properties, radium and polonium. They recognized radioactivity as an atomic property, heralding the dawn of a new scientific era. They won the Nobel Prize. Newspapers mythologized the couple's romance, beginning articles on the Curies with "Once upon a time . . . " Then, in 1906, Pierre was killed in a freak accident. Marie continued their work alone. She won a second Nobel Prize in 1911, and fell in love again, this time with the married physicist Paul Langevin. Scandal ensued. Duels were fought.
In the century since the Curies began their work, we've struggled with nuclear weapons proliferation, debated the role of radiation in medical treatment, and pondered nuclear energy as a solution to climate change. In "Radioactive," Lauren Redniss links these contentious questions to a love story in 19th Century Paris.
"Radioactive" draws on Redniss's original reporting in Asia, Europe and the United States, her interviews with scientists, engineers, weapons specialists, atomic bomb survivors, and Marie and Pierre Curie's own granddaughter.
Whether young or old, scientific novice or expert, no one will fail to be moved by Lauren Redniss's eerie and wondrous evocation of one of history's most intriguing figures.
My Review: I really enjoyed this book. It is a true feast for the eyes, a work of art. Every page has a different layout, different font, different colors. You have two choices with this book, you can read the story by either the words or the illustrations.
Besides the obvious visual interest the book provides it also gives you an introduction to Madame and Pierre Curie and the history of the discovery of radioactivity. I found this just an introduction which left me with a curiosity to learn more. I would be really interested in reading a longer biography on the Curies and a more in-depth history of radioactivity. In this aspect I found the book a little bit lacking. I was not satisfied at the end. However the fact that it sparked my interest enough for me to want to seek out further information is to it's credit.
I believe that this book is worth a look if only for the visual feast it is. If you are interested in Marie and Pierre Curie or the discovery of radioactivity you will definitely find this book to be something special!