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Love and Science: A Memoir Hardcover – February 9, 2016
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2016 Book Awards
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"Jan Vilcek does not make himself the center of a heroic narrative but gives space to colleagues, friends, and family, yet emerging from this narrative is the unmistakably wise, warm, optimistic, and modest soul of a great man." —Yiyun Li, author of Kinder than Solitude and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl
"This is a memoir to be cherished. Dr. Jan Vilcek’s remarkable life bears witness to the totalitarian evils of Nazism and Communism that shaped his native Czechoslovakia, and to the life-saving miracles he produced in the laboratories of his adopted homeland, the United States. It’s a story of courage and freedom, of discovery and philanthropy—told with the elegant modesty of a man who devoted his life to easing the world’s pain. Put simply, it demands to be read." —David Oshinsky, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History for Polio: An American Story
"Jan Vilcek tells a gripping story of a childhood on the run, escape from tyranny, and the building of a career and a discovery that benefits millions. A tale of both remarkable humanity and science, and hard to put down..." —Martin Blaser, MD, author of Missing Microbes
"It’s a marvelous book, as interesting about science as it is about the adventures of this extraordinary man. I couldn’t put it down." —Charles Simic, poet, essayist, and translator, past Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate of the United States
“Jan Vilcek’s extraordinary book sets a new standard in science writing and will inspire generations to come. It tells us what America is all about and shows that success can lead to generosity and visionary philanthropy.” —Eric R. Kandel, MD, Nobel Laureate, author of In Search of Memory and The Age of Insight
"In this compelling memoir, a modest giant in medical research survives the Nazis, escapes the Communists, thrives as an immigrant scientist, and turns unexpected wealth into prizes that remind us of the value of immigration. A great story appearing at a hazardous time in our nation's history!” —Harold Varmus, MD, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Vilcek was a key figure in the development of Remicade, a critical drug for the treatment of Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and related autoimmune conditions. Though such a renowned scientist might have been excused for writing a dense, jargon-filled, and self-important account of this achievement, Vilcek writes about the causes of these diseases and the process by which his lab was able to develop Remicade in simple and clear prose that can be understood by the intelligent layperson. Anyone who is afflicted with -- or is concerned about someone so afflicted -- will find the first fifty pages of this book to be very rewarding. These pages also illuminate the sociology and economics of scientific discovery. Vilcek leads the reader through the sequence of scientific breakthroughs that lay the groundwork for the discovery of Remicade and helps us understand the relationships between scientific labs, university bureaucracies, and private sector entrepreneurs that were involved. He describes his insights and decisions that were part of this process, but is also clear that luck was very instrumental in his success.Read more ›
In a very real sense, this book is a tribute to the American dream. It carries us through Vilcek’s life, from a childhood evading the Nazis in Bratislava, to a scientific career born under Communist regime, to a courageous defection, and, finally, the beginning of a new life in New York. Ultimately, Vilcek goes on to develop Remicade, one of the most successful and life-changing drugs of recent times.
For me, one of the timeliest aspects of the book is its ardent and sincere defence of the value of immigrants in the United States. At a time when anti-immigrant sentiment seems to be on the rise, it is heartening to read about the innumerable contributions foreign-born scientists and artists have made to American life.
"Love and Science" is truly a love story: dedicated to basic science (without which, we are reminded, there would be “nothing left to translate”), to friends and colleagues, to his beloved spouse, Marica, and to his parents. It is a remarkable book about a remarkable life.