Boston Public Library
Lives of Scientists In Their Own Word
Booklists for Adults

Joy AdamsonThe Searching Spirit:  Joy Adamson's Autobiography.  Austrian naturalist, Adamson is perhaps best remembered for her books Born Free and Living Free.    Adamson describes her childhood and her three marriages, as well as her involvement with the tigers and cheetahs of Africa.
QL31.A33 A3 1979

Luis W. Alvarez. Alvarez: Adventures of a Physicist. American physicist, recipient of the Nobel Prize for physics in 1968, Alvarez reflects on the professional and personal contexts of his many discoveries, especially in connection with the Manhattan Project.
QC774.A49 A3 1987

Jeremy Bernstein. The Life It Brings: One Physicist’s Beginnings. Physicist and science writer for the New Yorker magazine, Bernstein discusses his professional involvement with such luminaries of physics as Robert Oppenheimer, Francis Low and Niels Bohr.
QC16.B458 A3 1987

John Tyler Bonner. Life Cycles: Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist. Bonner describes his lifelong study of slime molds and life cycles, interspersed with biographical anecdotes. Each chapter represents a stage in evolutionary biology.
QH31.B715 A3 1993
QH31.B715 A3 1995x

Francis Crick. What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery. English biologist and recipient of the Nobel Prize in medicine for his work in determining the structure and significance of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), Crick describes his training and work in the fields of physics, biology and neurology.
QH31.C85 A3 1989

Carl Djerassi. The Pill, Pygmy Chimps, and Degas’ Horse: The Autobiography of Carl Djerassi.     This Austrian chemist led a team that first synthesized a steroid oral contraceptive&emdash;the Pill&emdash;in 1951. He discusses his upbringing in Vienna and Bulgaria, his family’s flight to the United States at the start of World War II, his professional career, and his later involvement with public policy issues surrounding contraception.
QD22.D63 A3 1992

Richard Phillips Feynman."Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character.  American theoretical physicist and recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on quantum electrodynamics, Feynman illustrates his scientific arguments with humorous anecdotes drawn from his professional and personal life.
QC16.F49 A37 1985
QC16.F49 A37 1989

George Gamow. My World Line: An Informal Autobiography.  Russian-born nuclear physicist and astrophysicist and an ardent popularizer of science, Gamow reflects on his childhood in Odessa and university life in Leningrad. He also discusses his contribution to the development of the "Big Bang" theory on the origins of the universe.
QC16.G37 A3 1970

Jane Goodall.   Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe.   English primatologist, famous for her studies of the chimpanzees of the Gombe Stream Reserve in Tanzania Africa, Goodall provides insights into the behavior of chimpanzees and relates personal anecdotes that led to some of these observations.
QL31.G58 A3 1990

Alice Hamilton.   Exploring the Dangerous Trades:  The Autobiography of Alice Hamilton, M.D.   American pathologist, Hamilton's research into such conditions as lead poisoning among steel workers led to stricter occupational safety laws.  In her autobiography, she describes her childhood and her decision to study medicine, as well as her experiences in the international arena.
R154.H238 A34 1985

Mark Kac. Enigmas of Chance: An Autobiography. A Polish-born mathematician, Kac made major contributions to probability theory, numbers theory, and statistics. He describes his early schooling and his "mathematical life." His love for mathematics shines throughout his book, with such sentences as: "As I look back on my life I marvel at the improbable assortment of people who, independently of each other, cooperated to keep me from being incinerated in the ovens of Auschwitz or Belsen…"
QA29.K23 A34 1985

Mary LeakeyDisclosing the Past.  English paleontologist and anthropologist, Leakey made important contributions to our understanding of human prehistory through her excavations at Laetoli and Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, Africa.  Leakey relates her first impressions of Africa, developing an interest in archaeology and living in wartime Kenya.  Mary Leakey also describes her professional and personal partnership with Louis Leakey.
GN21.L372 A33 1984

S. E. Luria. A Slot Machine, a Broken Test Tube: An Autobiography.  This Italian-born biologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in medicine for discoveries involving the replication mechanism, the genetic make-up of viruses, made key discoveries in the field of virology. Luria founded MIT’s Center for Cancer Research. Here he describes early life and career in Italy and the influences of the anti-Fascist politics of his mentors in science.
QR31.L84 A37 1984

P. B. Medawar. Memoir of a Thinking Radish: An Autobiography.  English biologist, winner of the 1960 Nobel Prize in physiology for his work in immunology, Medawar describes his early schooling, research experience, and family life.
QR180.72.M43 A3 1986

Sir Rudolf Ernst Peierls. Bird of Passage: Recollections of a Physicist.  German-born physicist, Peierls helped develop the technology of the atomic bomb and was an early advocate of nuclear weapons control. Here he describes early years in Germany and later research experience in England.
QC16.P375 A32 1985

Jacob Rabinow. Inventing for Fun and Profit. Russian-born electrical engineer and inventor of one of the first optical character recognition programs that is still in use today as the basis for sorting machines in post offices and banks, Rabinow discusses the technical background of his many inventions.
T212 .R32 1990x

Emilio Segrae. A Mind Always in Motion: The Autobiography of Emilio Segrae. Italian-born nuclear physicist, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics for the creation of anti-proton, particles of anti-matter with negative charges, he was a key figure in the development of the plutonium bomb. Included here are his early scientific career and upbringing in Italy, his work at Los Alamos during the war, and his later involvement with the nuclear disarmament movement.
QC16.S35 A3 1993

Alexander R. Todd. A Time to Remember: The Autobiography of a Chemist. Scottish-born organic chemist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his research on nucleotides, nucleotide coenzymes, and nucleic acid, Todd provides details of his life in chemistry, from obtaining a home chemistry set at the age of eight, to his involvement in later life in public policy on scientific issues. QD22.T74 A35 1983

John Archibald Wheeler. Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics.  This American physicist worked with Niels Bohr and Edward Teller in developing the processes of nuclear fission and fusion. Wheeler also conducted military research associated with the Manhattan Project and helped to create the hydrogen bomb.  He is credited with coining the term "black hole." He discusses his childhood and various collaborations with other physicists.
QC16.W48 A3 1998

Edward Osborne Wilson. Naturalist.   This American biologist made pioneering discoveries in the fields of entomology, evolutionary biology, and sociobiology.
QH31.W64 A3 1995

Compiled by James Nalen, North End Branch, Boston Public Library, 1999.