Marie Curie: A Life

Marie Curie: A Life

Marie Curie: A Life

Marie Curie: A Life


"A well-written biography of the internationally famous Marie Curie ... A welcome additon to well-rounded biographical or science collections." —Booklist

"Provides interesting and illuminating insights into the lives and works of Marie Curie, her husband Pierre and their scientific friends and contemporaries. For this reason alone it is to be highly recommended." —The Scientist


The value of men's minds can be measured by what they demand. I am worth what I want. — Paul Valéry

Einsten said she was "the only person to be uncorrupted by fame." What was it that made the most famous woman in our century incorruptible? The fact that she was a woman, of course— though the explanation might have been brief, it seemed right.

I came across that sentence of Einstein's, and I held onto it the way you hold onto a pebble that you've picked up on the beach and put in your pocket, rolling it between your fingers now and then. It doesn't really matter how other pebbles came to join the first. One day, they merged to form the faint image of a woman's face—and this woman was irritating, captivating, intriguing, not at all like the woman I had learned about in school.

When you try to understand the traces left by a person's life, you can arrive at several different interpretations. This book is my interpretation of Marie Curie's life, how her life has appeared to me ever since I stumbled on her—this gray-eyed sorceress—and couldn't shake her off.

It is not an academic book. It doesn't have an imposing apparatus of footnotes testifying to the researcher's qualifications. From time to time, though, some explanation has seemed necessary for readers who are unfamiliar with the scientific or political history of the period in which Marie Curie-Sklodowska lived, the years between 1867 and 1934.

She was a proud, passionate, and hard-working woman who played an important role in her time because she had the ambition and the means to do so, and who has played an important role in our own time too, since there is a direct relationship between Marie Curie-Sklodowska and atomic energy. It was also atomic energy that caused her death.

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