Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie - A Tale of Love and Fallout

Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie - A Tale of Love and Fallout

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by Lauren Redniss
     
 

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In 1891, 24 year old Marie, née 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

Overview

In 1891, 24 year old Marie, née 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.

Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Gilbert
“One of the most beautiful books-as-object that I’ve ever seen.”
Robert Krulwich
“[An] excellent new book.”
Malcolm Gladwell
“Radioactive is quite unlike any book I have ever read—part history, part love story, part art work and all parts sheer imaginative genius.”
Richard Rhodes
“Absolutely dazzling. Lauren Redniss has created a book that is both vibrant history and a work of art. Like radium itself, Radioactive glows with energy.”
Nicole Krauss
“Radioactive offer innumerable wonders. Colors suddenly bloom into tremendous feeling, history contracts into a pair of elongated figures locked in an embrace, then expands again in an explosive rush of words. In this wholly original book about passion and discovery Lauren Redniss has invented her own unique form.”
Vogue
“[A] sumptuously illustrated visual biography….Radioactive is an incisive look at science’s greatest partnership.”
New York Times
“[Radioactive is] a deeply unusual and forceful thing to have in your hands. Ms. Redniss’s text is long, literate and supple…Her drawings are both vivid and ethereal…Radioactive is serious science and brisk storytelling. The word ‘luminous’ is a critic’s cliché, to be avoided at all costs, but it fits.”
Marcia Bartusiak
Writer and artist Lauren Redniss has created a unique work difficult to categorize. A blend of original art, photographs, graphics and text, Radioactive…is meant to be both read and experienced…My wonder never ceased as I turned these pages. Visual echoes of Matisse, Gauguin and Van Gogh play across the book's pages. The prose is spare and simple, maintaining a metronomic beat that resonates with the underlying tragedies woven throughout the book. More than a biography, Radioactive reflects on many of the heart-rending repercussions that emanated from atomic research, from Hiroshima to Chernobyl.
—The Washington Post
Dwight Garner
Described simply, Radioactive is an illustrated biography of Marie Curie, the Polish-born French physicist famous for her work on radioactivity…and her equally accomplished husband, Pierre…Described less simply, it's a deeply unusual and forceful thing to have in your hands. Ms. Redniss's text is long, literate and supple. She catches Marie Curie's "delicate and grave" manner as a young student, new to Paris; she notes the "luminous goulash" of radium and zinc that one chemist prepares; she observes with pleasure another man's "thriving mustache." She has a firm command of, but an easy way with, the written word.
—The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061351327
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
12/21/2010
Pages:
205
Sales rank:
380,622
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 11.25(h) x 0.75(d)

What People are saying about this

Richard Rhodes
“Absolutely dazzling. Lauren Redniss has created a book that is both vibrant history and a work of art. Like radium itself, Radioactive glows with energy.”
Elizabeth Gilbert
“One of the most beautiful books-as-object that I’ve ever seen.”
Nicole Krauss
“Radioactive offer innumerable wonders. Colors suddenly bloom into tremendous feeling, history contracts into a pair of elongated figures locked in an embrace, then expands again in an explosive rush of words. In this wholly original book about passion and discovery Lauren Redniss has invented her own unique form.”
Robert Krulwich
“[An] excellent new book.”
Malcolm Gladwell
“Radioactive is quite unlike any book I have ever read—part history, part love story, part art work and all parts sheer imaginative genius.”

Meet the Author

Lauren Redniss is the author of Century Girl: 100 years in the Life of Doris Eaton Travis, Last Living Star of the Ziegfeld Follies and Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout, a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award for non fiction. Her writing and drawing has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, which nominated her work for the Pulitzer Prize. She was a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars & Writers at the New York Public Library in 2008-2009 and became a New York Institute for the Humanities fellow in 2010. Beginning in 2012, she will be artist-in-residence at the American Museum of Natural History. She teaches at Parsons the New School for Design in New York City.

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Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie - A Tale of Love and Fallout 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
westonm More than 1 year ago
¿Radioactive¿ by Lauren Redniss. A beautifully illustrated, if strangely chosen, pastiche on the life and love of Marie and Pierre Curie and the impact of their work in science on the world. The book is in the style of short vignettes, printed on multi-colored pages in triangular and other unusual formats with colored fonts (which are sometimes difficult to read) intermingled with abstract , a few photographs and a copy of an FBI report. The story of the Curies and of their offspring the Joliet-Curies and of Marie¿s later liason with Langevin are interesting and coherent. However, the choice of intermingled vignettes presumably illustrating the impact of the Curies¿ scientific work on the world is quite odd an uniformed: there is a vignette on 250 young women who suffered from radiation effects due to licking the paint brushes used to apply radium containing paint to watch numerals and another on a couple who were convinced that their repeated visits to a Montana mine converted to a radon health spa had saved the wife¿s life, but no mention of the enormous benefits to billions of medical X-rays, radiation therapy and nuclear electricity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Would have loved to see the sample book but, as a PDF, it only shows some artfully crafted pages that are crude graphics without any text to speak of (except the table of contents - also as graphic, not text). How anyone could evaluate this book without first purchasing it is a mystery. One star for the possibilities. As well, I would -never- consider a PDF instead of an ePub. Get it straight, B&N, before your business craters.
claudika More than 1 year ago
This is a great book! Give me a good reason why is not available on NOOK yet?
stitchingpink More than 1 year ago
I won't do this book justice with a review. It is simply beautiful.
Muhkenziee More than 1 year ago
Why isnt this a nookbook yet?! I wanna read it so baddddd!