Louis Pasteur

Overview

Distinguished French immunologist and physician Patrice Debré offers an extensive, balanced, and detailed account of Louis Pasteur's life, struggles, and contributions. Drawing heavily on Pasteur's own scientific notebooks and writings, Debré presents a complete critical account of his discoveries and the controversies they raised with other scientists and occasionally with his closest associates.

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Overview

Distinguished French immunologist and physician Patrice Debré offers an extensive, balanced, and detailed account of Louis Pasteur's life, struggles, and contributions. Drawing heavily on Pasteur's own scientific notebooks and writings, Debré presents a complete critical account of his discoveries and the controversies they raised with other scientists and occasionally with his closest associates.

Johns Hopkins University Press

The book contains black-and-white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Scientific American

Trained in physics and chemistry, beginning his career as a teacher of those subjects and a researcher in crystallography, Pasteur as a young man would not have seemed likely to make an international reputation in medical research. But he did, and Debré in this fine biography traces the steps in the transition and illuminates Pasteur's many achievements in the field.

Times Higher Education Supplement
Splendid.

— Alice M. Stewart

Booklist

Originally published in France to commemorate the centennial of Pasteur's death and now deftly rendered in English, this masterful biography offers the most complete portrait yet of a multifaceted genius.

Social History of Medicine
Debré's biography contributes substantially to an understanding of the scientific, material, personal, and institutional circumstances of the major experimental discoveries commonly credited to Pasteur.

— Martha L. Hildreth

L'Express

A candid, detailed, and lively biography that demystifies this cult figure, showing him in front of his test tubes or at work in his dog kennel.

Times Literary Supplement
A superior specimen of traditional narrative biography... Debré tells Pasteur's story with pace and flair.

— Roy Porter

Times Higher Education Supplement - Alice M. Stewart

Splendid.

Social History of Medicine - Martha L. Hildreth

Debré's biography contributes substantially to an understanding of the scientific, material, personal, and institutional circumstances of the major experimental discoveries commonly credited to Pasteur.

Times Literary Supplement - Roy Porter

A superior specimen of traditional narrative biography... Debré tells Pasteur's story with pace and flair.

Scientific American
[A] fine biography...illuminates Pasteur's many achievements...
New England Journal of Medicine
Louis Pasteur reads well, and Debre is a talented writer and storyteller, well served by his translator, Elborg Forster.
David S. Barnes
This unabashedly worshipful biography retraces all of the familiar steps in Pasteur's career, from the molecular asymmetry of crystals to the beginnings of immunology. The author narrates in great detail the pivotal moments of inspiration and innovation that made the French chemist and microbiologist one of the most revered and chronicled figures in the history of science. The purpose is to illuminate the process of scientific discovery and innovation by examining in detail the life and work of a legendary scientist. The audience is history of medicine scholars, scientists, students, and general readers. The author pays special attention to discoveries that had immediate or long-term ramifications in medicine (e.g., the attenuation of microbial virulence through oxygenation, the development of the anthrax and rabies vaccines), but does not neglect Pasteur's earlier work on spontaneous generation, silkworms, beer, and wine. Emphasis is placed throughout the narrative on the often vicious conflicts between Pasteur and his detractors (especially in the medical world), on Pasteur's genius and perseverance, and on the epic and fateful dimensions of scientific progress. With this book, the author joins a long and illustrious tradition of physician-biographers, paying homage to the past giants of medical science. There is certainly a place for this kind of biography, which is often enjoyable, edifying, and inspiring. However, it should not be mistaken for serious historical analysis. Moreover, few lives in the history of science have been so thoroughly chronicled and picked over as that of Louis Pasteur, and after a certain point, one must confront the fact that there is little worthwhileterritory left to be covered. In cases such as this, the scholar or biographer must present either new source material or a novel interpretation in order to make a significant contribution to the literature as Latour's The Pasteurization of France (Harvard University Press, 1988) and Gelson's The Private Science of Louis Pasteur (Princeton University Press, 1995) have done in recent years. Apart from the chronological occasion of the 1995 centenary of Pasteur's death (for which the original French version of this book was written), it is difficult to see any justification for yet another lengthy biographical veneration of this titan of nineteenth-century science.
Library Journal
Biographers are like the characters in the classic Japanese film Rashomon, who each reveal one aspect of the truth when recounting the same event from their unique perspective. Like Gerald Geison's revisionist and controversial The Private Science of Louis Pasteur (LJ 5/1/95), Debr 's biography was written to mark the centenary of Pasteur's death in 1895. Unlike Geison, who is a historian, Debr is a practicing scientist, the head of the Immunology Laboratory at the Piti -Saltp ti re Hospital in Paris, and director of a research unit associated with the French National Center for Scientific Research. Drawing heavily on Pasteur's own notebooks and writing, Debr provides a counterpoint to Geison's book, which had charged Pasteur with scientific misconduct. Writing in an engaging style, he has created a balanced and detailed account of Pasteur's personal and professional life. Debr clearly understands the difficulties of trying to get one's peers to accept changes to established procedures and practices even when science supports these changes. Highly recommended for undergraduate, graduate, and general readers.--James Olson, Northeastern Illinois Univ. Lib., Chicago
Booknews
Translated from the French work (published in 1994, publisher not cited), coinciding with the centenary of the pioneering scientist's death in 1895. Offers an extensive, balanced, and detailed account of Pasteur's life, struggles, and contributions, drawing heavily on Pasteur's own scientific notebooks and writings. The author is a French immunologist and physician with a previous biography under his belt. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
L'Express
A candid, detailed, and lively biography that demystifies this cult figure, showing him in front of his test tubes or at work in his dog kennel.
Scientific American
[A] fine biography...illuminates Pasteur's many achievements...
Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: David S. Barnes, PhD (Harvard University)
Description: This unabashedly worshipful biography retraces all of the familiar steps in Pasteur's career, from the molecular asymmetry of crystals to the beginnings of immunology. The author narrates in great detail the pivotal moments of inspiration and innovation that made the French chemist and microbiologist one of the most revered and chronicled figures in the history of science.
Purpose: The purpose is to illuminate the process of scientific discovery and innovation by examining in detail the life and work of a legendary scientist.
Audience: The audience is history of medicine scholars, scientists, students, and general readers.
Features: The author pays special attention to discoveries that had immediate or long-term ramifications in medicine (e.g., the attenuation of microbial virulence through oxygenation, the development of the anthrax and rabies vaccines), but does not neglect Pasteur's earlier work on spontaneous generation, silkworms, beer, and wine. Emphasis is placed throughout the narrative on the often vicious conflicts between Pasteur and his detractors (especially in the medical world), on Pasteur's genius and perseverance, and on the epic and fateful dimensions of scientific progress.
Assessment: With this book, the author joins a long and illustrious tradition of physician-biographers, paying homage to the past giants of medical science. There is certainly a place for this kind of biography, which is often enjoyable, edifying, and inspiring. However, it should not be mistaken for serious historical analysis. Moreover, few lives in the history of science have been so thoroughly chronicled and picked over as that of Louis Pasteur, and after a certain point, one must confront the fact that there is little worthwhile territory left to be covered. In cases such as this, the scholar or biographer must present either new source material or a novel interpretation in order to make a significant contribution to the literature as Latour's The Pasteurization of France (Harvard University Press, 1988) and Gelson's The Private Science of Louis Pasteur (Princeton University Press, 1995) have done in recent years. Apart from the chronological occasion of the 1995 centenary of Pasteur's death (for which the original French version of this book was written), it is difficult to see any justification for yet another lengthy biographical veneration of this titan of nineteenth-century science.

2 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801865299
  • Publisher: Hopkins Fulfillment Service
  • Publication date: 10/25/2000
  • Pages: 604
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrice Debré heads the biological immunology laboratory at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris and directs a research unit associated with the French National Center for Scientific Research. He has also published a biographical study of the French Nobel Prize winner Jacques Monod. Elborg Forster's translations for Johns Hopkins include Medieval Marriage by Georges Duby and Illness and Self in Society by Claudine Herzlich and Janine Pierret.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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