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humanities 305 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 risked failure. Then she steered them to further opportunities whether they thought they wanted them or not. Such activities may be the stuff of legend (around the campus), but they are not the stuff of riveting biography. There is a whole thirty-four-page chapter of verbatim accounts by former students of their encounters with the registrar: one hundred and four variations on the theme of >I came, I met Jean Royce, I registered.= The large number of reminiscences is evidence of Hamilton=s thorough and accurate research, but otherwise could better have been drastically condensed. Particularly in the account of Royce=s retirement years, nuggets such as the appreciative analysis of Royce=s friendship with Margaret Hooey have to be extracted from a welter of less interesting details about her monthly grocery bills or payments to her cleaning lady. Frequent reflections on the nature of biography, admirably postmodern though they are, also impede the flow of the narrative; there is much to be said for overcoming self-consciousness and getting on with the story. But Royce left little in the way of personal revelation, so that the author is left to supply it herself with surmises, suggestions, and hypotheses. This is, then, as much an encounter with Hamilton as with Royce. Luckily she is a perceptive and sympathetic biographer, dealing with a subject who was complex, humane, and intelligent. Their interaction is interesting as an illumination of one of the myriad ways in which women=s history is developing. (JEAN O=GRADY) Boris Stoicheff. Gerhard Herzberg: An Illustrious Life in Science NRC Press and McGill-Queen=s University Press. xiii, 468. $49.95 In the early 1930s, Gerhard Herzberg was a brilliant young physicist in Darmstadt, making his name internationally in the exciting new field of spectroscopy B the study of atoms and molecules by observing the light they absorb or emit. At that time, Germany was the world=s centre for mathematics and physics. Then, in 1933, the Nazis came to power, and within a few months the German scientific edifice began to crumble. Within two years, more than seventeen hundred >non-Aryan= and >politically unreliable= scholars and scientists were dismissed from their positions and dispersed throughout the world. Physics, which was disproportionately Jewish, was especially hard hit, with a loss of at least 25 per cent of its personnel (including a number of Nobel laureates). Gerhard Herzberg was not Jewish (although his wife was), and he thought at first he might ride out the storm; but he couldn=t. In 1935, he was deemed unfit to teach German youth because his wife=s ancestry made him >one of the Jewish clan.= Despite his renown, his search for a new position outside of Germany met with no initial success: it was the heart of the Depression, and the few positions in 306 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 the major centres available to foreigners were already filled by the first wave of emigrants. Thus, when he was offered a position at the University of Saskatchewan (a scientific and cultural wilderness for a person of his background), he accepted. This was the beginning of an extraordinary love affair between the immigrant and his adopted country. Herzberg=s impressive talent was welcomed by far-sighted individuals who allowed him to thrive, first in Saskatchewan, then in Ottawa. There he built up the Division of Physics at the National Research Council into a laboratory of international repute, which became a Mecca for the foremost scientists of the day, and performed the research which earned him the 1971 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The author of this history, Boris Stoicheff, was a colleague and friend of Herzberg=s for almost fifty years. He was personally selected by Herzberg to write his official biography and enjoyed unparalleled co-operation from him and his family, as well as access to all of his scientific and personal papers. While the resulting book is clearly a labour of love, it involved an abundance of labour: in the 1920s, Herzberg formed the (lifelong) habit of keeping...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 305-307
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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