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Marie Curie: A Life by Susan Quinn (190,000 words and 41 photographs)

Marie Curie was long idealized as a selfless and dedicated scientist, not entirely of this world. But Quinn's Marie Curie is, on the contrary, a woman of passion — born in Warsaw under the repressive regime of the Russian czars, outspokenly committed to the cause of a free Poland, deeply in love with her husband Pierre but also, after his tragic death, capable of loving a second time and of standing up against the cruel, xenophobic attacks which resulted from that love. This biography gives a full and lucid account of Marie and Pierre Curie’s scientific discoveries, placing them within the revelatory discoveries of the age. At the same time, it provides a vivid account of Marie Curie’s practical genius: the X-Ray mobiles she created to save French soldiers' lives during World War I, as well as her remarkable ability to raise funds and create a laboratory that drew researchers to Paris from all over the world. It is a story which transforms Marie Curie from an bloodless icon into a woman of passion and courage.


"Quinn's portrait of Curie is rich and captivating. Quinn strives to peel back... layers of myth and idealization that have grown up around the physicist... She succeeds beautifully. Quinn has written a worthy successor to her previous work, the award-winning biography of American psychiatrist Karen Horney." —
Washington Post Book World (page 1)

"A touching, three-dimensional portrait of the Polish-born scientist and two-time Nobel Prize winner." —
Kirkus

"I've read many biographies of Marie Curie and Susan Quinn's is magnificent. It's so complete and so evocative that I can't imagine anyone coming away from reading it without feeling they actually know Marie Curie." —
Alan Alda

"Quinn portrays a woman who was both independent and ambitious, in a society that was unprepared for either. The result is a fresh, powerful new biography of a very human Marie Curie... This is an exemplary work, rich in the details and connections that bring a person and her era to life. It is certain to be this generations' definitive biography of Marie Curie." —
Science

"Quinn breaks ground in her detailed description, drawn from newly available papers, of Marie's life after Pierre's accidental death in 1906. At first so grief-stricken she neglected her two daughters, Irene and Eve, Marie later had a love affair with French scientist Paul Langevin. Because Langevin was married, Marie was vilified by the French press and was almost denied the 1911 Nobel Prize for chemistry." —
Publishers Weekly

"Susan Quinn's excellent biography gives a lucid account of Curie's contribution to our understanding of 'things'... but Quinn also draws on new material to paint a more rounded and attractive picture of Curie the person... For Marie, the enchantment of her science never waned, and it is this enchantment which Quinn's biography communicates so well." —
London Observer