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Rabi: Scientist & Citizen by John Rigden (117,000 words, 18 illustrations)

“Rabi’s voice comes through vividly and forcefully. This is a work of great inspiration.” — Aage Bohr, Professor of Physics, Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark

“This excellent work is the first full biography of Professor Rabi, the scientist who epitomizes the passing of the torch of physics from Europe to the United States almost a half-century ago. As I read this biography it was almost as if Rabi himself were retelling these events so that all can share his memories of those exciting and important years and benefit from his experience and wisdom.” —
Rosalyn S. Yalow, Nobel Laureate in Medicine

“A delightful book about a delightful man. Rabi always found a simpler way to do any given experiment, and this made him a great physicist. He has now become a sage who has given the most useful advice to all his colleagues.” —
Hans A. Bethe, Nobel Laureate in Physics and Professor Emeritus of Physics, Cornell University

“A steadily fascinating account of an exemplary life. Rigden gives the lay reader a clear idea of what the physicist is seeing, what leads him to such strange thoughts. His account of ‘The Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer’ gives more useful information in a few pages than I could find in the near thousand-page transcript of the hearings.” —
Howard Nemerov, Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet and Professor of English, Washington University

“An admirable biography, the best possible replacement for the memoirs that Rabi never found time to write.”
McGeorge Bundy, Professor of History, New York University

“The twentieth century [was] a time of high adventure in physics. It is no wonder that Rabi, with his ebullience and complex genius and wisdom found his profession ‘wonderful.’ As Rigden demonstrates in this complete and very good book, physics was wonderful for Rabi and Rabi was wonderful for physics.” — R. R. Wilson,

“The growth, in this century, of the American physics community — in size, stature, and influence — is certainly a historical development with deep roots and profound implications. John Rigden’s Rabi: Scientist and Citizen is a fascinating treatment of that subject as reflected in the career and person of Isidor I. Rabi... The [book] sets forth in coherent and sometimes passionate prose an impressive account of I. I. Rabi’s self-image and vision, a vision shared by an important group of physicist colleagues... an engaging personal portrait.” — Allan A. Needell, Isis: A Journal of the History of Science

“A real tour de force and a pleasure to read.” — John G. King,
Physics Today

“Rabi’s life was remarkable, full of incident, vision and action, including war, hot and cold. The biography is a masterpiece, rich in anecdote and never losing the narrative drive.” —
New Scientist

“Nobel prize-winning physicist I. I. Rabi was described by journalist Daniel Greenberg in 1967 as the
éminence grise of America’s scientific establishment. During the Second World War he was in charge of radar research as an associate director of the MIT Radiation Laboratory and was a senior consultant for Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. After the war he helped to establish the Brookhaven National Laboratory; he sat on the General Advisory Committee (GAC) of the Atomic Energy Commission, eventually succeeding Oppenheimer as chairman; under Eisenhower he was an architect of the president’s Science Advisory Committee. As an elder statesman in the American Cold War scientific community, he was concerned to solidify both the political and the cultural power of science. John S. Rigden’s biography of Rabi, now reissued with a new preface by the author, emphasizes Rabi’s view of science as properly not just a source of technological and military strength, but as ‘the center of culture’.” — Charles Thorpe, British Journal for the History of Science

“Rigden, physicist and editor of the
American Journal of Physics, has created an intimate portrait of this Titan of 20th century science... The book takes the reader into a world where powerful physical forces and powerful political forces come together to shape our century.” — Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society

“[A] satisfying, sympathetic portrait of a modest, brilliant scientist who regards his calling as ‘sacred,’ a religious exploration of ‘one God,’ the God being nature. Readers will treasure equally the story of Rabi’s molecular-beam experiments which earned him the Nobel Prize in 1944 and a gallery of revealing glimpses of his scientist friends, chief among them J. Robert Oppenheimer.” —
Publishers Weekly

“I. I. Rabi is one of this country’s most distinguished physicists... his life has encompassed all of this century and the revolution in physics that it produced... an interesting story, ably told by John S. Rigden, a physicist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.” — Lee Dembart,
Los Angeles Times