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I Wish I'd Made You Angry Earlier: Essays on Science, Scientists, and Humanity

Subject Area(s):  General Interest TitlesAutobiography/BiographyHistory of Science

By Max F. Perutz, formerly Chairman and Member of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, England

© 2003 • 460 pp., index
Paperback • $18 14.40
ISBN  978-087969674-0
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Science is no quiet life. Imagination, creativity, ambition, and conflict are as vital and abundant in science as in artistic endeavors. In this collection of essays, the Nobel Prize–winning protein chemist Max Perutz writes about the pursuit of scientific knowledge, which he sees as an enterprise providing not just new facts but cause for reflection and revelation, as in a poem or painting. Max Perutz's essays explore a remarkable range of scientific topics with the lucidity and precision Perutz brought to his own pioneering work in protein crystallography. He has been hailed as an author who "makes difficult subjects intelligible and writes with the warmth, humanity, and broad culture which has always characterized the great men of science." Of his previous collection of essays, a reviewer said "They turn the world of science and medicine into a marvelous land of adventure which I was thrilled to explore in the company of this wise and human [writer]." Readers of this volume can journey to the same land, with the same delight.
Max Perutz (1914–2002) was a brilliant scientist, a visionary of molecular biology, and a writer of elegant essays infused with humanity and wisdom. This expanded paperback edition of his very successful book I Wish I'd Made You Angry Earlier contains nine additional essays, and a warmly evocative portrait of Max by his friend and professional colleague Sir John Meurig Thomas.

The original hardcover edition of this book was co-published with Oxford University Press. A paperback edition is also available from Oxford University Press. The expanded paperback edition is only available from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

Translation Information

Shanghai Scientific & Technical Publishers—Chinese Translation Rights (simple character)
Baldini & Castoldi—Italian Translation Rights
Editions Odile Jacob—French Translation Rights
Verlag Brueder Hollinek—German Translation Rights


(of the expanded paperback edition) (*indicates new essay)

Friend or Foe of Mankind?
Splitting the Atom
The Man Who Patented the Bomb
Why Did the Germans Not Make the Bomb?
Bomb Designer Turned Dissident
Liberating France
Enemy Alien
The Threat of Biological Weapons*
High on Science
Deconstructing Pasteur
The Battle Over Vitamin C
A Mystery of the Tropics
The Forgotten Plague
What Holds Molecules Together?
I Wish I?d Make You Angry Earlier
Big Fleas Have Little Fleas
How the Secret of Life Was Discovered
Dangerous Misprints
A Deadly Inheritance
Darwin Was Right
A Passion for Crystals
The Top Designer*
The Great Sage*
It Ain't Necessarily So*
By What Right Do We Invoke Human Rights?
The Right to Choose
Swords into Ploughshares: Does Nuclear Energy Endanger Us?
What If?*
The Second Secret of Life
How W.L. Bragg Invented X-ray Analysis
Life?s Energy Cycle
The Hormone that Makes Nerves Grow
How Nerves Conduct Electricity
In Pursuit of Peace and Protein*
Keilin and the Molteno*
Growing Up among the Elements*
Friendly Way to Science*

The Scientific and Humane Legacy of Max Perutz (1914–2002) by Sir John Meurig Thomas*

My Commonplace Book
Notes and References
Subject Index


review:  The following reviews were of the hardcover edition
      —CSHL Press

review:  "Perutz's extraordinary historical grasp and the breadth of his personal experience and cultural perspective give his reviews an interest that often transcends that of the books themselves. He brings luminously to life such figures as Fritz Haber, Lise Meitner and Leo Szilard. He writes with wonderfully lucid precision about science and offers also a fine polemic, first read to the American Philosophical Society, on the meaning of freedom….

This is a wholly captivating book; it has warmth, wit and style, and not a dull sentence. I urge you to read, enjoy and learn."

review:  "The essays are beautifully written, with flashes of wit and humor. Many of the essays were written for the New York Review of Books; anyone addicted to that journal, as I am, will at once get a feel for the style of these essays. I read this as a bedtime book, so I dipped into it at random. When I finally found that there was no more to read, I felt quite disappointed — no more chocolates in the box!"
      —Nature Medicine

review:  "Allusions to literary and classical characters abound in Perutz's essays and bear witness to his status as a true Renaissance man. In this collection creativity is only one of numerous scientific themes that are discussed with the same lucidity and precision that characterize Perutz's pioneering work on crystallography ….

According to Nobel Laureate Peter Medawar (physiology or medicine, 1960), one of the many scientists profiled in this book, ‘science at all levels of endeavour is a passionate enterprise and the pursuit of natural knowledge a sortie into the unknown.’ Perutz's book, which we heartily recommend to scientist and nonscientist alike, will convince its readers of the truth of this statement."
      —The Chemical Educator