AUTHORPeierls, Rudolf
TITLEBird of Passage: Recollections of a Physicist
PUBLISHERPrinceton University Press
CITYPrinceton, NJ

This autobiography recounts the life and career of Rudolf Peierls, a prominent theoretical physicist and scientist who served at Los Alamos during World War II. Peierls describes his schooling and graduate work in Germany, including his first encounters with theoretical physics at the University of Berlin. His reminiscences include numerous anecdotes about his encounters with fellow students, famous scientists, and later colleagues, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, Klaus Fuchs, and Max Planck and Niels Bohr. Often humorous, Peierls’ autobiography nevertheless approaches with candor some of the most horrific events of the twentieth century: World War I, World War II, and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The very readable text is not just a scientific biography; it also presents a mixture of history, biographical sketches, and some scientific theory. Peierls places his own involvement at Los Alamos within a larger and more complex portrait of his own life as a scientist, a friend, and a family man. The book includes a section of black-and-white photographs of Peierls with his family and colleagues.

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