True Genius: The Life and Work of Richard Garwin, the Most Influential Scientist You’ve Never Heard of
True Genius is a fascinating, very detailed biography of a physicist and inventor, Richard Garwin. His name is not well known, yet his influence and work during the Cold War years were substantial, starting in Los Alamos, New Mexico with his work on the thermonuclear device and later as one of the scientific advisors to the Presidents. Author Joel Shurkin has undertaken an exhaustive research to write this biography, in places almost painstakingly detailed. This is far more than a biography—it is the interesting history throughout the Cold War years, including the politics but particularly the role of the scientists (mostly physicists and mathematicians) who developed the hydrogen bomb. Though ethically opposed, they knew if they didn’t do it, the Russians would. The text includes numerous quotes by Garwin and his colleagues. As an inventor, Garwin worked part time for IBM, and his work there is also good reading. The book includes twenty-two black-and-white photos. Though the book is not a page-turner, readers who like reading biographies or who like science and politics during the Cold War will enjoy this volume. The text is full of superscript numbers referring to notes at the end with references.