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BOOK REVIEWS Black Apollo of Science—The Life ofErnest EverettJust. By Kenneth R. Manning. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983. Pp. 397. $29.95. Rooted in detailed archival research and interviews and written with passion and a fine sense of crucial issues, this highly readable scientific biography is important as a social and intellectual history of science and cultural history of America from the late nineteenth century to World War IL Manning tells the story of E. E. Just (1883-1941), a major contributor to the study of the developmental and cell biology of marine invertebrates and one whose career is a portrait of the international biological community of the period. An excruciatingly painful organizing axis of that community for Just—and for the entire scientific endeavor in North America—was racism, subtle racism and blatant racism; there was never for a minute in the career of a talented scientist the freedom of not being seen, marked, and named first as a black man and only then as a scientist, political conservative, lover, father, or as partaking of any other status that makes up a life. Manning tells the story of how one lives as the marked category, the nonuniversal man within the institutional structures of scientific culture, the culture that has claimed itself to be the generator of universal values and knowledge unmarred by the particularities of history. It is impossible for a white person of either gender to read this book without flinching from the historical legacy and multiple contemporary complicities of racism—but not because Manning overstates or plays for liberal guilt; quite the opposite: the power of the story derives from the author's scrupulous narrative discipline, which crafts a biography embodying at every turn nuance, complexity, and scrupulous evenhandedness. But pain in reading—a different pain according to the race, sex, and class of the reader—is not the quality to overstress. The biography is a deep pleasure to read for its rich store of documented stories that serve as historical evidence in the social history of science. Just's life took him from South Carolina to Dartmouth, to Woods Hole in the formative years of the Marine Biological Laboratory, to the University of Chicago for a Ph.D. with Frank Lillie, to teaching at Howard University, and to Europe in the last years of his life, in a search for the possibility of productive work and of sustaining personal life outside the devastating limitations of racism in North America. The chapters on his growing-up years are distinguished by evocative portraits of his mother, a complex woman dedicated to black education , and of other characters from Charleston and the lowlands and sea islands of Carolina. Pictures of education at Dartmouth give a sense of the history of Permission to reprint a book review printed in this section may be obtained only from the author. Perspectives in Biology andMedicine 28, 3 ¦ Spring 1985 \ 475 liberal education in America just before the transitions wrought by the institutionalization of modern science and industry in the United States. But the real strength of the book begins with Just's arrival at Woods Hole as Lillie's assistant. Manning weaves a compelling narrative of complex friendship, social authority, dependencies and resistances, scientific productivity, and lifelong mutual commitment in the context of detailed historical structurings outside the control of either man. A strong part of this section of the book covers Just's relations with Jacques Loeb, frorrl initial support from-Loeb—but only on Loeb's terms, which included prominently his own fantasy thatJust should dedicate his life to the medical education ofblack people and not insinuate himself as an independent scientist with the gall to challenge Loeb's own theories and methods—to Loeb's devastating dismissal ofJust to foundation officials, sabotaging any hope that the black embryologist might have had for a position in a white research university. The picture of Just's own extremely complex personality, crafted by his (to me) cloying romanticism and addiction to hard work and success and by the subtle deformations of dissembling before the powerful while working to achieve something of lasting value,,is a major achievement. Manning's research into...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 475-477
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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