Few scientists have thought more deeply about their calling and its impact on humanity than Max Perutz (1914-2002). Born in Vienna, Jewish by descent, lapsed Catholic by religion, Max came to Cambridge in 1936, to join the lab of the legendary Communist thinker J.D. Bernal. In 1940 he was interned and deported to Canada as an enemy alien, only to be brought back and set to work on a bizarre top secret war project.
Seven years later he founded the small research group in which Francis Crick and James Watson discovered the structure of DNA. Max Perutz himself explored the protein haemoglobin and his work, which won him a shared Nobel Prize in 1962, launched a new era of medicine, heralding today's astonishing advances in the genetic basis of disease.
Max Perutz's story, wonderfully told by Georgina Ferry, brims with life; it has the zest of an adventure novel and is full of extraordinary characters. Max was demanding, passionate and driven but also humorous, compassionate and loving. Georgina Ferry's absorbing biography is a marvellous tribute to a great scientist.
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Engrossing... At a time when British citizenship is being debated, we would do well to remember the case of Max Perutz along with the many other immigrants who transfused the intellectual life-blood of this country in the postwar years - Guardian
Ferry has captured her subject's genial, uncompetitive personality well - Literary Review
I loved it. As a scientist, reading this well-written biography of a great researcher was a treat.... Max Perutz was a great man and a great researcher, and here he has received the biography he deserves - Sunday Telegraph
Elegant, adroit biography...delightful - Observer
Georgina Ferry's biography captures not only the scientific advances made by Perutz but also his curious personal qualities - Economist
Ferry's story... proceeds with pace and clarity, explaining the science vividly and buoyed throughout by an infectious enthusiasm - Times Literary Supplement
[A] marvellous biography of one of the least known of the twentieth century's great scientists...Ferry has mined gold into the lives of two of the founders of structural biology; I can't wait to see who she tackles next - Nature
Max Perutz, one of science's great ambassadors... has been given a meaty biography by former New Scientist writer Georgina Ferry - Jewish Quarterly
Georgina Ferry has produced a first rate account of his life... there is no difficult physics and the story will appeal to anyone who wants to know how science works and how exciting scientific research can be - Royal College of Pathologists magazine
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About the Author
Georgina Ferry is a former staff editor on New Scientist, and contributor to Radio 4's Science Now . Her books include the acclaimed biography Dorothy Hodgkin: A Life (1998); The Common Thread (2002, with Sir John Sulston) and A Computer called LEO (2003). She lives in Oxford.