Book review 2: I wish I’d made you angry earlier

I bought that book because I was intrigued by the title.

I wish I’d made you angry earlier is actually a series of essays on Science, Scientists, Humanity; written by Nobel-prize laureate Max Perutz.  (Amazon link here)

It is impossible to present Max Perutz in a few lines (That’s why we have Wikipedia); but basically, among his many achievements like solving structure of hemoglobin, he was also member and chairman of the Medical Research Council Laboratory (MRC) of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. It is just one of these places significantly enriched in Nobel Prize winners. (14 for that particular lab; like Fred Sanger, Watson & Crick, Sydney Brenner, …)

Getting back to our subject, his book was a delight to read. It is a series of essays that can be read more or less just by cherry picking the one you feel like reading at a precise moment. I like to say that it describes History and histories of science of the 20th century.

Thereby, it contains chapters about the making of the nuclear bombscience during cold warphilosophies of science, and the advent of molecular biology after WWII. (And more …)

I liked it because it does not contain meaningless gossips about scientists, but stories of the men and women behind famous scientist names. It makes these big names of science more human. The fact that they did their research in sometimes dramatic and difficult conditions makes you feel so lucky about our nowadays research conditions we tend to complain a lot about.

The preface is incredibly meaningful, and I probably read it about 10 times. Max Perutz notably writes : “Like children out on a treasure hunt, scientists don’t know what they will find”. This kind of sets the tone of the book.

One hidden jewel is Max Perutz’s “Commonplace Book” were he lists all the quotes of philosophers, scientists, writers that he likes. It’s such a pleasure to read them over and over.

I would definitely recommend this read to all people, scientists or not, who like to read about science. It is very accessible, witty, and clever.


PS: You’ll know why it is called “I wish I made you angry ealier” when you read it. That’s my cliffhanger.

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