The Curies: A Biography of the Most Controversial Family in Science / Edition 1

The Curies: A Biography of the Most Controversial Family in Science / Edition 1

by Denis Brian
Pub. Date:
Turner Publishing Company


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The Curies: A Biography of the Most Controversial Family in Science / Edition 1

Awarded a combined total of six Nobel Prizes, the celebrated Curie family's collective work and momentous achievements alone make their lives fascinating. But the lesser-known side of their story includes the controversy, the drama, the scandal, and the tragedy that surrounded them. Now, the first full-scale biography of the Curies provides a well-rounded, honest look at both the private and professional lives of the world's most gifted scientific family.

Drawing upon years of research, interviews, and correspondence with friends, family, and associates of the Curies, biographer Denis Brian provides intriguing insights into the entire Curie clan, including Pierre Curie's father and grandfather, both gifted doctors who made their own considerable contributions in the field of science.

You'll learn how the brilliant though personally unambitious Pierre dealt with his fear of failure on the heels of his first major scientific breakthrough; why the deeply patriotic, driven, and highly intelligent Marie worked for years as a governess; and how the Nobel Prize money alleviated Marie and Pierre's financial worries but created a new problem—the shattering of the couple's privacy.

You'll also read about the scandal that erupted over Marie's affair with one of Pierre's students and how it nearly drove her to commit suicide, and about reports that son-in-law and lifelong pacifist Frederic Joliot-Curie helped the Soviet Union build its atom bomb. You'll discover why daughter Eve was the only family member to eschew a life of science—and why daughter Irène followed in her mother's footsteps, but feared always living in her mother's shadow.

The Curies also unravels the mysteries surrounding this intensely private family, including Pierre's disdain for public recognition and how it stymied his professional advancement; the couple's decision not to benefit financially from their discovery of radium; the Machiavellian plot devised to exclude Marie from being nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1903; the illnesses that plagued Pierre, Marie, and Irène as a result of their research; and Marie's ongoing battle with France's chauvinistic science community.

Passionate, enlightening, and engaging, The Curies reveals a family as deeply devoted to their work as they were to each other, risking their lives to improve the lives of countless others.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780471273912
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 08/01/2005
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.42(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

DENIS BRIAN is the author of Einstein: A Life and Pulitzer: A Life, both published by Wiley. His other books include The True Gen: An Intimate Portrait of Hemingway by Those Who Knew Him and Genius Talk: Conversations with Nobel Scientists and Other Luminaries.

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Table of Contents


1. Pierre Curie.

2. Marie Salomea Sklodowska.

3. Pierre and Marie in Love.

4. Mutual Adoration.

5. Spirits, Radioactivity, and the Price of Fame.

6. Psychic Researchers.

7. Pierre Curie’s Last Day.

8. Rescuing Langevin from His Wife.

9. Battered by the Press.

10. Surgery and Suffragettes.

11. “Little Curies” and World War I.

12. A Gift of Radium from the United States.

13. Radium: Miracle Cure or Menace?

14. A Great Discovery—at Last.

15. Marie Curie’s Last Year.

16. Nobel Prizes, Spanish Civil War, and Fission.

17. France Defeated.

18. Joliot Keeps the Gestapo Guessing—Eve Curie Tours the Battlefronts.

19. Joliot Becomes a Communist—Eve Curie Interviews Nehru, Gandhi, and Jinnah.

20. The Battle for Paris.

21. Joliot’s Fight for Peace and Communism.

22. Joliot Launches Peace Offensive and Charges the United States with Using Germ Warfare in Korea.

23. The Curie Legacy.


Selected Bibliography.


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