Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss

Source: Public Library
Hardcover, 208 pgs.
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Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss has a cover that glows like the radium discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie, and the collage format allows the text, photos, illustrations, and documents to inform one another in a unique way.  Not only does Redniss use interviews with scientists, A-bomb survivors, and Marie and Pierre Curie’s own granddaughter, but she also utilizes Marie Curie’s own words from her diaries and letters.  The book chronicles not only the discovery of Radium and Polonium, but also how Marie and Pierre came to be working and living their lives together, as well as Marie’s life after the death of her husband.

What’s interesting about this book is that it not only examines the history of discovery and the resistance to commercialization held at the time by the Curie’s and other scientists.  There are some points in the book where the transition between the historic events and the more recent consequences of Curie’s discoveries could have been smoother, particularly the section about the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant meltdown that comes right after Marie has lost her husband and moves with her daughters closer to Pierre’s father.  Beyond that, those who have studied Curie in school may not know about her work with hospital X-ray units or how her work was carried on by her children.

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss condenses a lot of historic fact into a small volume and offers supporting documentation for her findings.  This collection would be a great addition to school classrooms and could help make a hard-to-understand subject easier to digest.

***Another thank you goes to Bermudaonion for bringing my attention to this one***

About the Author:

Lauren Redniss is the author of Century Girl: 100 years in the Life of Doris Eaton Travis, Last Living Star of the Ziegfeld Follies and Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout, a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award for nonfiction. Her writing and drawing has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, which nominated her work for the Pulitzer Prize. She was a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars & Writers at the New York Public Library in 2008-2009, became a New York Institute for the Humanities fellow in 2010, and is currently Artist-in-Residence at the American Museum of Natural History. She teaches at Parsons the New School for Design in New York City.


  1. bermudaonion(Kathy) says

    I liked this one a lot! It’s filled with facts and visually appealing. Thanks for the shout out!

  2. Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) says

    Sounds like an interesting format, and that’s certainly an eye-catching cover!

  3. Suko http://www.sukosnotebook says

    Serena, this sounds like a fascinating collection of poetry and art related to the Curies. This reading is excellent, and I enjoyed the art on the screen as well.