St. Louis, MO, USA
An insightful, well researched book. I grew up in a Siberian "closed" town in 1970s, which was build by Gulag prisoners before I was born. I spent my childhood behind three rows of barbed wires and had a happy childhood in this Soviet version of "gated community", which was not on the map. Interestingly, my home town Zheleznogorsk is still not on the map - Google maps missed it for some reason. My small town produced refined plutonium and spy satellites. In nearly 30 years I lived in the USSR before moving to the USA, I had no idea what was happening outside USSR, not only in the capitalist West, but even in the socialist East. We just never had a chance and thus did not even dream about traveling the world, until Soviet Union collapsed and suddenly everything become possible. Now I am trying to catch up with all the missed opportunities - and travel 30-40 times a year.
Book is a bit single sided though. I wish I could discuss it with the author. I live in Missouri now, not too far from Westminster College in Fulton MO, where the famous "Iron Curtain" speech was delivered by Winston Churchill in 1946. A week later the transcript of this speech was on Stalin's desk and infuriated him. It prompted Stalin to approve plans for building my home town among a network of similar "closed" cities of Siberia and for establishing my Alma mater - Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology - the best STEM school in former Soviet Union, which trained many outstanding physicists. It is impossible to go back in time, but what would have been without this speech? I am far from thinking that Stalin would have been different, but historical dynamics might have been not so dramatic in 1946 and on after the speech.
It is sad that the responsibility for rape of Eastern Europe by Stalin's Soviet Union is not acknowledged by the current Russian government, as it was by Germany. Without such a moral statement there will be no reconciliation.
I am a cardiovascular physiologist and love my field of research, but reading this book I realized that if I had read this book in high school it could have changed my life and made me a cancer biologist/physician. Fascinating story, deep and exciting science, excellent historical line and compassionate physician's account of numerous patients saved and lost to this dreaded disease. The author is blessed with quite rate selection of talents - top notch researcher, good doctor, and outstanding citizen of the republic of letters. Book brings hope that we might be close to beat cancer in the next few decades.
The book is well researched, meticulous, pays attention to details, perhaps a bit too much in some parts. But it gives a broad and comprehensive review of history of ideas which led to discovery of reason and birth of science. It is not an easy reading for a sleepy traveler. But for a prepared mind it opens the history of human thought unbiased by both proponents and opponents of world domination by a single cultural tradition. Human mind has been forged by multitude of cultures and civilizations - this book tells loud and clear.
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