Cover image for Solly Zuckerman : a scientist out of the ordinary
Solly Zuckerman : a scientist out of the ordinary
Peyton, John, 1919-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : John Murray, [2001]

Physical Description:
xviii, 252 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL31.Z93 P48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Solly Zuckerman's early life in South Africa left him with a lifelong concern for the natural world. His mother, "an overpowering taskmaster," bred in him the habit of questioning established wisdom. These pressures, having first made him an academic scientist, carried him, amazingly, into the higher reaches of Government both in Britain and America. No other foreigner would ever have been invited to attend meetings of the President's Science Advisory Committee. He advised particularly on strategy of bombing, the peril of nuclear weapons, and the hazards caused by human numbers to the land, water, and air on which we all depend.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Government scientific advisors usually hail from quantitative disciplines such as physics. In striking contrast, Zuckerman was a doctor of medicine and zoology who advised the British government on aerial bombing, nuclear war, the development of military jets, and even oil spills. According to Peyton, a Labour Party politician, the switch from studying baboons, one of Zuckerman's specialties, to studying bomb blasts occurred by serendipity when in 1940 an Oxford don enlisted Zuckerman and his simians to gauge the concussive force of German bombs. Throughout this biography, Peyton underscores the scientific qualities of Zuckerman's mindand respect for facts over wishful thinking--that made his opinions count with decision makers up to the 1970s. On the other hand, Zuckerman the man strikes Peyton as more cryptic, someone who guarded his privacy yet exhibited the streak of a bon vivant and enjoyed socializing with figures such as Prince Philip. Although Zuckerman was not well known, his unusual career and Jewish South African background will pique interest. --Gilbert Taylor

Choice Review

Zuckerman was a biologist who was born in South Africa in 1904 and died in England in 1993. He had an amazingly diverse career that included being a military advisor during WW II, a political advisor during the early NATO era, and a university academic and administrator. He started as a lecturer in 1934 at Oxford where he became a prolific researcher and an excellent teacher. One of his most notable achievements was to serve as chair of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Birmingham. After his arrival at Birmingham in 1946, Zuckerman built up both the teaching and research programs of the department. Although the book provides insights into the career of an interesting scientist, the writing is not always the best; in particular, the narrative in latter chapters does not flow well. Despite this, suitable for general readers. J. Z. Kiss Miami University