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506 pp., illus., index
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The collection of Perutzs letters that his daughter Vivien has edited (many of them translated from German) creates a life that is saturated with the immediacy of those letters...[They] will give you a feeling that you are reading someone elses mail. It created a sense of guilt because I felt that I was snooping into his privacy and, at the same time, it gave me a historians thrill to see his mind linked to the moment. Perutz has a wonderful sense of the settings, personalities, and events that touch on his major life episodes. What was particularly enjoyable in reading the letters was encountering his personality...Teachers of undergraduates will treasure [this book] for the rich coverage of the birth of molecular biology and the circumstances that made it possible.
The Quarterly Review of Biology
The book is prefaced by the republication of a memoir by David Blow. This provides a brief overview of [Perutzs] career for readers not familiar with his work, and gives an idea of the regard with which he was held. This is an important contextual piece of information that immediately makes the book more accessible to a younger and wider audience. The book is of interest to scientists today since it gives an insight into the thought processes of the man that shaped molecular biology in England, Europe and further afield. It will also serve as part of an important record for historians and philosophers of science, who will appreciate its completeness… The book gives a very personal account of the rise of molecular biologyfrom the start of the field charting its rise to prominence and success in tackling a wide range of human diseases. All of this is seen through the correspondence of one man, albeit one of its finest practitioners. It is rare for the public to gain such a detailed view of the inner thoughts of scientistsusually they are too scared of misinterpretation to speak to the press. This book will help those that are interested in science see what drives such people to dedicate their lives to problems such as the mechanism for the transport of oxygen through the body on a molecular level.
All crystallographers will find much to like in this splendid book...many other scientists I think will also find interest in its insights on the workings of science and on Max Perutz as a leading figure in this field and beyond.... It is a privilege to have access to all these letters in this remarkable and splendid volume.
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