David's Reviews > The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom

The Strangest Man by Graham Farmelo
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Jan 17, 10

Read in December, 2009

This book isn’t about Michael Jackson! Instead, it is a biography of Paul Dirac, a British born physicist, who didn’t seem overly strange to me. He may not have been socially normal as far as “normal” is depicted in society. Farmelo ties to define Dirac’s personality from childhood abuse when his father made him talk French during their dinner conversations. Farmelo, a physicist, is good in reporting on Dirac’s life, and about his contributions to atomic theory (which weren’t as sexy as Einstein’s, but important) and to the building of the atomic bomb, but is not convincing in his psychological analysis of Dirac. In one of the closing chapters he examines whether or not Dirac could have been autistic. I felt like he wasn’t well enough informed about autism to even be trying to make that judgment. Besides, autism seems to be a catch all for many symptoms of unsociable traits. I closed the book thinking, Dirac seemed to be a very intelligent man who didn’t like to talk.
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