The bestselling, "excellent…poignantand scientifically lucidportrait" (New York Times Book Review) of the remarkable Marie Curie.
Through family interviews, diaries, letters, and workbooks that had been sealed for over sixty years, Barbara Goldsmith reveals the Marie Curie behind the mythan all-too-human woman struggling to balance a spectacular scientific career, a demanding family, the prejudice of society, and her own passionate nature. Obsessive Genius is a dazzling portrait of Curie, her amazing scientific success, and the price she paid for fame.
About the Author
Barbara Goldsmith (19312016), a journalist and philanthropist, was the author of Little Gloria…Happy at Last, Obsessive Genius, Johnson v. Johnson, The Straw Man, and Other Powers.
Table of Contents
|Chapter 1||Early Influences||20|
|Chapter 2||"I Came Through It All Honestly"||33|
|Chapter 5||Remarkable Accidents||61|
|Chapter 6||"The Question Was Entirely New"||68|
|Chapter 7||"The Best Sprinters"||80|
|Chapter 8||"A Beautiful Color"||89|
|Chapter 9||"What Is the Source of the Energy?"||101|
|Chapter 10||"I Will Make Him an Help Meet for Him"||107|
|Chapter 11||"The Disaster of Our Lives"||114|
|Chapter 12||"We Were Happy"||127|
|Chapter 13||The Metamorphosis||135|
|Chapter 14||"My Children...Cannot Awaken Life in Me"||145|
|Chapter 15||"The Chemistry of the Invisible"||154|
|Chapter 16||Honor and Dishonor||165|
|Chapter 17||"She Is Very Obstinate"||177|
|Chapter 18||"All My Strength"||183|
|Chapter 19||The Making of a Myth||191|
|Chapter 20||To Pass the Torch||205|
|Chapter 21||Marie's Legacy||220|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Obsessive Genius recounted the most significant discoveries of Marie Curie and her journey to success. Goldsmith captured the essence of self-determination, which provided evidence that women have the potential to exceed and overcome social expectations during the 1890s. Curie¡¯s life involved mainly of science as her father and her graduate studies influenced her to pursue her interests. She graduated first in her class and secured degrees in both mathematics and physics. With the help from her husband, Curie was able to discover radioactivity and then the elements radium and polonium. These discoveries presented her Noble Prizes and fame in the male-dominant society. This reflected how Curie was brave enough to challenge the traditional views of women through her intellectual abilities. She served a role model who had gone through tremendous difficulties to achieve her goals. Curie¡¯s self-reliant personality sparked new attention in women and influenced them to explore. Moreover, her findings advanced the society to focus on issues that were more global as to reduce destructions. Goldsmith presented the true value of Curie¡¯s success in that she combined the personal experiences in conjunction of Curie¡¯s science. This book exposed the secrets of great discoveries and the importance as her science evolved to serve the world.
I've not read Ms. Goldsmith's work before but I am enchanted by her balanced, realistic, and utterly convincing portrait of a real human, a woman, an ethnic (Polish) underdog, a depressive achiever, who accomplished so much and suffered so much for it. She touched me deeply. Marie (and her family) are the paradigm of achievement and sacrifice in our contemporary world ... 19th Century ... 21st Century, no matter. The Kennedys might be an American analogue in politics ... When I was a kid, my own mother (a gentle feminist) insisted that I read Eve Curie's biogaphy of her mother, Marie, written more than 60 years ago, It was a world where the scientists, mathematicians, librarians, teachers, philosophers, humanists, took us one-and-one- half steps forward, while the politicians, warriors, lawyers and profiteers dragged us a full step backwards. Nowhere is this more odious than today, where science has been attacked and downgraded. Revealed knowledge has gained a respectibility that takes us back thousands of years into the Dark Ages. Empirical, testable, repeatable scientific knowledge is hard-won. Once validated by repeated challenge, it transports us into better times as a species. A day after reading Goldsmith's biography I still feel warring emotions and numbness. Joy at the devotion and blinding intelligence of the Curies who manifest the best in our species. Deep sadness at the persistent dismal human condition and how we in aggregate make it so much worse for each other across the globe. We are frail and we are corruptible. Worse, because we today could make it better if we only traded our swords for plowshares. Goldsmith's biography is a perfect read at Christmas- time, as we all consider our religions, our futures, the very nature of our existance, and the meaning of the Christ Child and his sacrifices. Special kudos to Goldsmith for her intelligent perusal of new documents in their original language. We owe her a great debt for scholarship and her humanity.
In this biography, Barbara Goldsmith delves deep beneath the myth surrounding Marie Curie and reveals her as she really was: a brilliant woman haunted by depression and prejudice. From childhood, Marie was immersed in science and a need for excellence. She attended college at the Sorbonne University in France since women were not allowed in college in Poland, and went on to be first in her class. After a somewhat reluctant marriage to Pierre Curie, Marie continued to research beyond the limits of her body. She discovered polonium and later radioactivity and radium, which she and Pierre continued studying for years. Goldsmith offers a deeper insight into to sexism which restricted Marie Curie at the time. Today she is known primarily for her discovery of radioactivity and the struggle involved is often forgotten. Goldsmith would like to enlighten the public of Marie Curie¿s astonishing battle for recognition, despite numerous slights from prejudiced authorities. She does an wonderful job with this detailed description of not only the Curies¿ discoveries, but also those going on around them and the constantly changing controversies. Few people are aware of the work that Marie Curie accomplished after Pierre died, but his death only marks the halfway point in the biography. Even less known is the assumed love affair between Marie Curie and the already married Paul Langevin, which destroyed much of Marie¿s popularity. Yet even after that so-called scandal, Marie Curie once again became famous and an outstanding role model for women around the world. Goldsmith¿s endless flow of insights into Marie¿s personal life as well as her scientific life illuminate her in a way that the science books fail to mention. Anyone looking for the whole story should read this biography or continue thinking of Marie Curie as a flat character who is only remembered today for radium. Her struggles must not be forgotten.
This book is the perfect holiday gift. I'm sending it to people of all ages from 10 up. What a wonderful story, it's a page turner. It is hard to believe the life she led and her belief in the spirits. I always thought of her as a dull goddess but that love affair..it's a wow and it came from her hidden diary. For the first time I understood the science behind Madame Curie's accomplishments. The author is so clear. Finally, I would say this story is not just for holidays. People will be reading and enjoying it for years to come.
Obsessive Genius is an utterly fascinating portrait of a hallowed and difficult subject. If you are a fan of Goldsmith's work, (I am) you will immediately see that she is the perfect person to give Curie the complexity and dimension she deserves --as a scientist and as a woman. It's a short book which is by turns moving, informative, and intriguingly unexpected. I couldn't put it down.
The author has discovered the truth of Marie Curie's Dickensian, impoverished childhood, has read papers sealed for 60 years (some radioactive!)to get this incredible story, the truth behind the legend. Every library should have this sensational and deeply informative book and so should book clubs and anyone who wants a great read. A bestseller for sure. If there wre more than five stars that's how I'd rate it. A must read!!
Through origional research the myth of Marie Curie explodes into an in-depth study of her inner world, one of torment and of glory. This book has sold in eight languages and is a selection of the Book of the Month Club,the History Book club, the Quality Paperback Book Club and the Scientific American Book Club.
So boring old people