My Reading List:

  • "The Art of Learning" by Josh Waitzkin
  • "The Greatest Generation" by Tom Brokaw
  • "In Spite of the Gods" by Edward Luce

Monday, January 15, 2007

Louis Pasteur by Pasteur Vallery-Radot

Part of the "A Great Life in Brief" series, this is an old book that I found in the library while looking for inspiring biographies. Written by the grandson of the great French chemist Louis Pasteur ( his daughter's son ) this is a very well written book after the first few of chapters; I'll explain shortly.

Printed in 1970, the copy I read definitely had an old bookshop feel and smell to it. The book starts off a little before Louis Pasteur's birth detailing the youth of his father a tanner and soldier. The first part of the book involves a lot of French history, and I was a little lost in the confusing details of the tumultuous latter half of the 18th century French history.

Once the narrative exits this era and focuses itself on Louis Pasteur it really hits it's stride and makes for a very interesting read. It details the education and rise of Louis Pasteur as a prominent scientist in France. Trained as a chemist who gained prominence with his study of crystalline structure of chemicals, Pasteur went on to make significant and world changing discoveries in the fields of fermentation, vinegar making, beer brewing, wine making, silkworm breeding, and of course infectious diseases. A man of total dedication, scientific integrity, utmost humility, and very little patience for scientist of his era who did not base their work and criticisms on rigorous and thorough scientific study, Pasteur was definitely an inspiring person.

If not this particular book, I would highly recommend reading some biography of Louis Pasteur for anyone interested in biographies. On the other hand, this book having been written by his grandson has a very personal feel to it, and I would recommend that you read this one even if you have read another biography of Louis Pasteur.

I'm sure you have heard of "Pasteurisation", if you had not made the connection to this great scientist, now you know!

Title: Louis Pasteur A Great Life in Brief
Author: Pasteur Vallery-Radot
Foreword: Pasteur Vallery-Radot
Translator: Alfred Joseph (from French)
# Pages: 197
Published by: Alfred A Knopf Publisher (New York)
Year: 1970 (5th Printing)
L.C. Catalog #: 58-5828