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Marie Curie: A Life

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  431 ratings  ·  41 reviews
"A touching three-dimensional portrait of the Polish-born scientist and two-time Nobel Prize winner" (Kirkus) Madame Curie, the discoverer of radium and radioactivity

One hundred years ago, Marie Curie discovered radioactivity, for which she won the Nobel Prize in physics. In 1911 she won an unprecedented second Nobel Prize, this time in chemistry, for isolating new
Paperback, 528 pages
Published April 10th 1996 by Da Capo Press (first published 1995)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  431 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Jon Nakapalau
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very approachable biography of Marie Curie - one of the true pioneers of science.
Robin Ryan
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-books-read
A thorough journey through the fascinating life of a woman who won two Nobel Prizes and gave birth to a daughter who would also win a Nobel. Marie Curie was an intellectual force, and the life she lived had challenges that she continued to overcome and almost always come through the victor.
Sleeping with Ghosts
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: enciclopedias
Happy women's day to all!! Read good stuff, good bios. Enjoy the day and do what to love to do. ...more
Rebecca Conard
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Quinn's biography strikes the right balance between Marie Curie's personal and professional lives, enabling readers to understand her as a complete historical person. Especially notable are Quinn's lucid discussions of Curie's scientific accomplishments vis-a-vis those of other chemists and physicists working in the new field of radioactivity and the remarkable scientific partnership she enjoyed with her husband, Pierre Curie.
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully written biography on an utterly fascinating subject. My knowledge of Marie Curie was limited to a paragraph or two from high school science courses. This book provides a good context of the scientific times in which Marie Curie lived (she and Rutherford had quite the scientific debate going on, and she went hiking with Einstein) and her life in France at the turn of the century. She was dogged in her scientific pursuits, was involved in a bit of a romantic scandal, and contributed ...more
Brilliant Hope
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Marie curie the woman who opened the nuclear age ,I was happy to
become intimately aware when i was reading the story that discovery
itself, is an issue of passion,for me ;Marie was not simply a great scientist;
she was a magnificent human being, and her love of science
and her commitment to truth were reflected in her personal
character, which was beyond reproach
I wish to thank Madame Marie, and say that her life is an inspiration which I
have loved.
Marie Curie’s hypothesis that radiation was “an
Sep 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of science, history, romance
Shelves: biography, science
I suppose this is more a review of the subject than of the book, but I feel like I've discovered a new world. I'm well into middle age but had never read Marie Curie's biography before now. I had only heard of her as "Madame Curie" and am very, very glad that more modern references use her entire name: Maria Sklodowska-Curie. "Madame Curie" always sounded like the name of a prison matron, and how disrespectful, to omit the FULL NAME of a woman who won the Nobel Prize twice! Susan Quinn does an ...more
Ladan F
Aug 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
One hundred years ago, Marie Curie discovered radioactivity, for which she won the Nobel Prize in physics. In 1911 she won an unprecedented second Nobel Prize, this time in chemistry, for isolating new radioactive elements. Despite these achievements, or perhaps because of her fame, she has remained a saintly, unapproachable genius. From family documents and a private journal only recently made available, Susan Quinn at last tells the full human story. From the stubborn sixteen-year-old studying ...more
Marcia Towey
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I knew absolutely nothing about Marie Curie, sad to say. This book was excellent, providing a thorough background on the political environment in Poland and the education of women at that time. The author did a wonderful job making Marie into a human being with strong emotions, particularly her attachment to her family, her husband, her daughters and her ill-fated romance. The science was well explained leaving me with a better grasp of the Curies' amazing discoveries. I found the book moving, ...more
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very interesting read, Marie Curie truly was an increadible women. For me, it was a bit more in depth than necessary, but the thoroughness also helped the reader relate to Marie Curie through her life, so I can't complain too much there.
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: english
Gave up after 20 pages
Then I picked it up again. Very interesting story but badly written and slow going
S Ashok
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Susan Quinn Biography of Madam Curie life is truly an epic, the book is comparable to any literary masterpiece. The book is truly remarkable for multiple reasons and is a benchmark of how a well-written biography should be.

The book captures the entire life of Madam Curie, from her early childhood days in Poland to her death in Paris as one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century.
The book's greatest strength is the parallel histories and narration it offers, it places Curie amongst
Elizabeth Sulzby
I gave this biography 4 stars mid-way through but raised it to 5 stars at the end. The author, Susan Quinn, included more of Marie Curie's personal life than had previous biographers. I was afraid there was too much emphasis on the personal and not enough upon her actual scientific research but the end of the book proved me wrong. I read this book after reading a fictional book on accidental radioactive poisonous of a couple in Georgia and Oak Ridge and a non-fictional accounting of the women ...more
Ell Eastwood
Nov 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Ppl interested in Marie Curie
Okay, so this took me a month to finish, but that's not because I didn't enjoy the book: it's because my copy is the heaviest hardback I've ever had the misfortune of encountering. Hence I couldn't bring it when I'm out and about, and since I do a lot reading while commuting ... yeah, it took a while.

But when I read it, I did enjoy it - a lot. Marie Curie is fascinating woman, with a fascinating life. Even though I knew basic facts about her before reading this book, I learned a lot of things I
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
If you are interested in the details of Marie Curies daily life almost from cradle to grave, then this is the book for you. If you want to learn anything about her science you will have to look elsewhere; there barely 20 pages even remotely about her science. In contrast, there is 5 pages on the design of her bicycle. You will find, in excruciating detail, in addition to her daily life, commentary on French political history and the social structure of society and commentary on her furniture. ...more
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Detailed and insightful. I had not read much about Marie's life therefore her entire story was new to me. Her translated correspondance provides so much into her thoughts and emotions she went through during her various experiences. Her voice was surprisingly a little Victorian over-dramatic which I was not expecting at all but i assume was normal for her time. I imagine this book would not be for everyone, but I thought it was engaging and interesting. I can't wait to read the one her daughter ...more
May 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Excellent detail about this woman's amazing life. This author held well to Marie's 'religion of memories' that to chronicle a life was an act of love.
Quinn interviewed Marie's daughter, Eve Curie Labouisse, who also wrote a biography about her mother called 'Madame Curie' in 1937.
Quinn has written a book for the modern reader to understand Marie's time and accomplishments.
Isobel Kolbe
Jun 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved this account of a remarkable woman! Her struggle with sexism and with science, her loves and losses and achievements. What a role-model, and what a fantastically written biography!
Richard Needham
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There seems to be a fair amount of hagiography in common perceptions of Marie Sklodowski Curie; a strength of this book is that it tells her remarkable story with a minimum of fuss and in well-researched detail. How a woman born in 19th century Russian-occupied Poland to middle class but struggling parents managed to acquire a first rate scientific education (at the Sorbonne in Paris) then go on to win Nobel prizes in both Physics and Chemistry (and her daughter Irene Joliot-Curie won another!) ...more
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored this biography of Marie Curie. Rather than simply concentrating on the science that Marie did, Quinn wrote about her as a woman, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a mother. It was amazing the amount of things that she accomplished in spite of living at a time, when very few women became scientists. She persevered in spite of the limitations forced upon her at the time, and for me a Deaf woman who decided to go into science, that's really important that other women see that it ...more
Olivia G
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
An intimate look at the mother of physics.

The author’s purpose in writing this book was to debunk some of the mythology surrounding Marie Sklodowska-Curie and present her as a real person who had successes and struggles. Quinn does so spectacularly, covering Curie’s life from childhood to her death in a well-researched narrative. Drawing from around 130 sources, including writings from Curie and her family, Quinn presents a well researched, intimate look at the woman who is considered the mother
Owen G. Clayton
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of the several biographies of Marie Curie that I have read, this one is, by far, the fullest, running to some 500 pages. From the first chapter, which seemed to go on forever, to the last sentence, reminders of Curie's Polish background are numerous, and the history of her becoming French (and acknowledged as such by Frenchmen) was fully laid out; one cannot help but marvel at how the fickle French public was excoriating her over the Languevin affair, then, turning to praise when the "petite ...more
Patricia Joynton
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful book! All I ever really knew about Marie Curie was that she was a scientist interested in radium. The mother of radiation. She was also a very good mother and a wife. She home schooled one if not all of her children. She and her husband Pierre worked together until his death. While not being involved with the feminist movement she made many advances for females in science. There were many issues about her getting the noble prize for science. It was one that broke barriers at ...more
Carol Arce
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Writing a biography takes a special skill. The biographer has a set of facts that can't be altered, so its all about presentation. Susan Quinn's presentation of the facts of Marie Curie's life is somewhat uneven. There are parts of the book, Marie's childhood in Russian-occupied Poland, that are too heavily detailed and slow, other parts, Marie's scientific process and discoveries, that are not detailed enough and feel skimmed over, and still other parts, the French backlash over her affair with ...more
Miruš Hujová
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Life of Marie Curie-lived with the dignity one can only admire is in this book described quite charmingly. Unfortunately, in the first two thirds of the book, the author is paying (in my opinion) too much attention to scarcely related figures and stories. This maybe made the book richer in details, but it also definitely trained my patience.
Aleta Sullivan
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: msta
I read this book after viewing a wonderful film on Marie Curie by Jen Myronuk. Susan Quinn gives us an in-depth biography of a determined woman. This Curie biography impresses the reader with Curie's hardships of being a woman in an all male society, and how that followed her throughout her life.
Tiffany Johnstone
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved it. If you ever wanted a woman to look up to, this is one of them. Especially considering how many opposed her being a scientist. Where she was born, there was no freedom. Plus all the heartache she endures in her personal life. Wait till you read who she was friends with.
Margaret Temkin
Very interesting
Good Biography of a passionate physicist and chemist... I had always admired!! Now i admire her even more...
Nicole Bayeta
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The first biography of Madame Curie that I read was on the back of my classmate's notebook when I was in grade one. It was disappointingly brief and shared a page with a similarly brief account of Sir Isaac Newton. I found Madame Curie to be far more fascinating and I have held her in high esteem since.

Over the years, I learned more about her from textbooks and documentaries. But this particular biography by Susan Quinn reveals far more than all the details I've gathered about this incredible
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