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Judging Edward Teller: A Closer Look at One of the Most Influential Scientists of the Twentieth Century Hardcover – October 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 575 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; First Printing edition (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616142219
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616142216
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Excellent. An interesting, thorough, and objective discussion of the life of Edward Teller, a brilliant but controversial scientist."
-Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, University of California at Berkeley

"A must read for those who wish an accurate accounting of Teller and his associates who led the free world into the nuclear era."
-Harold M. Agnew, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory,
former chairman of the US General Advisory Committee ACDA

"Recommended for college and research libraries’ history of science collections and is highly recommended for lay readers with a penchant for science."
-Library Journal

'This is a fascinating and educational read. A particularly significant aspect of this text is the light it shines on the struggles and conflicts that ethics plays within science…This book would be a great choice for an advanced or secondary college class that integrates the history of science and physics."
-NSTA Recommends

About the Author

Istvan Hargittai PhD, DSc (Budapest, Hungary), is the author of the critically acclaimed Judging Edward Teller; the six-volume Candid Science series of interviews with famous scientists; The Road to Stockholm: Nobel Prizes, Science, and Scientists; The Martians of Science: Five Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century; and The DNA Doctor: Candid Conversations with James D. Watson. Dr. Hargittai is Research Professor at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. He is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, a foreign member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and a member of the Academia Europaea in London.

More About the Author

Istvan Hargittai, PhD, DSc (Budapest, Hungary), is the author of several acclaimed books including the six-volume Candid Science series of interviews with famous scientists; The Road to Stockholm: Nobel Prizes, Science, and Scientists; The Martians of Science: Five Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century; and The DNA Doctor: Candid Conversations with James D. Watson. Dr. Hargittai is professor of chemistry at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics and head of the George A Olah PhD School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. He is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, a foreign member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and a member of the Academia Europaea in London. His work on the Teller book was assisted by a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By gspringer on October 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Prior to reading this book I wondered what more could be written about Edward Teller, the "Martians" (the brilliant Hungarian refugee scientists) and the men and women who revolutionized science in the 20th century. This fabulous book, presenting an excellent picture of Teller and his time, answers this question. Based on documents, letters and personal interviews (many hitherto unpublished) the author gives a balanced assessment of Teller's achievements in science and politics, some of which were highly acclaimed, some highly controversial. The book also describesTeller's collaboration with most of the leading physicists and chemists of his generation, his friendship and his subsequent falling out with them. Anyone interested in the science, scientists and the atomic politics in Teller's lifetime will find this book most informative and enjoyable.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Russell A. Rohde MD on November 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Judging Edward Teller: A Closer Look at one of the Most Influential Scientists of the Twentieth Century", Authored by Istvan Hargittai. Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY 2010. ISBN: 978-1-61614-221-6. HC 575/456. 9 ¼" x 6 ¼". Table Contents 12 Chaps., 4 pgs., Frwd. 3 pgs., Preface 8 pgs., Afterword (R. Garwin) 4 pgs., Timeline E.T. 4 pgs., Ackn. 3 pgs., Biographical names 20 pgs., Notes 60 pgs., Index 27 pgs. Inveiglements: 51 crisp B & W photos of the principle players, antagonists, protagonists, supporting cast and their stage including atomic and thermo-nuclear bomb detonations.

Author Istvan Hargittai, a Prof. of Chem. at Budapest Univ. & member of both Hungarian & Norwegian Academies of Science, authored more than a half-dozen books on world-renowned scientists, Nobel Laureates and the like, and is/was personally acquainted with many he wrote about, including personal interviews with E. Teller.

Having read most of Hargittai's previous publications, I concluded "Judging Edward Teller" (JET) was a special work of love for the author: it reveals an unwaveringly true, scholarly journalistic scrutiny of Teller's life from cradle to grave. It details his passage from Hungary to Germany, then to the United States and its research institutions. In time, he became "Father of the Hydrogen Bomb", sought unprincipled entry (for a scientist) into military politics, and embarked on an overly passionate crusade to provide optimum security for the US against Russia.

Hargittai clearly demonstrates hesitancy to lay blame or take sides on the many critical issues and scientists who came together to work on the Manhattan Project, Los Alamos, largely under Dr. Robert J.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John R. Haneman on August 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author chose as his subject, a person of undoubted enormous intellect, and who applied that intellect for advancement of science, culminating in the development of the explosive Hydrogen Bomb. Had circumstances been different during the late 1930s and beyond,and had there been no NAZI persecution of the Jewish people, coupled with the NAZI'S brutal military conquests of peaceful neighboring countries, one can only speculate in what other direction Edward Teller's scientific genius would have led to - medical discoveries combating viral disorders and cancer? - condensed matter physics? Who knows.

Istvan Hargittai has recounted Edward Teller's youth, and his exposure to anti-semitism and NAZI ideologies, both of which obviously shaped Edward Teller's instincts for self preservation - for himself, his family, and the free world.

Much has been made of Teller's judgement that J Robert Oppenheimer could be (in the latter part of the 1940's) a security risk. Many of Teller's contemporaries have never forgiven Teller for this opinion, which led to no security clearance being granted to J. Robert Oppenheimer, notwithstanding it was Oppenheimer who led the scientific breakthrough in developing the Atomic Bomb for the United States.

Teller's personal strengths and weaknesses are there for all to read - and with respect to his foibles (for want of a better word), all I can say is - Teller was, human.

By and large, I found the book, interesting, informative and enjoyable. What more could one ask for.

John Haneman - Sydney -Australia.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pichierri Fabio on June 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Edward Teller was one of the Martians, five super-intelligent Hungarian-born scientists that emigrated to the States and greatly contributed to the advancement of science and technology. The other four Martians were Theodore von Karman (aerodynamics), Leo Szilard (physics and molecular biology), John von Neumann (mathematics, computer science, economics, physics), and Eugene Wigner (physics). Their excellence and brilliance are likely the result of the stimulating and at the same time worrisome atmosphere that permeated the city of Budapest in the 1900 (see John Lukacs' book: Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and Its Culture). Each of them had his own special personality and character; as far as Teller is concerned, the author writes that there were at least three Tellers, depending on how the people populating the three corresponding environments (science, politics, and family) did perceive him. After reading the book I felt quite satisfied because I better comprehended the complex and controversial figure he represented. As a physical chemist I was quite interested in reading about his important contributions to chemical and molecular physics: the Renner-Teller and Jahn-Teller effects and the BET equation (BET = Brunauer, Emmett, Teller). Furthermore, Dr. Teller's contributions to nuclear physics emerge in the so-called Gamow-Teller transitions which are concerned with the theory of beta-decay. For those interested in the modern history of science (and physics) and its connection to society, the book is very worth reading. If you want to know more about the Martians, I suggest the book "The Martians of Science: Five Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century", also by Hargittai.
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