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Book Review Controversial Chemists Linus Pauling A life in Science and Politics. By T. Geortzel and B. Geortzel

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Controversial Chemists
Linus Pauling: A Life in Science
and Politics. By I: Goertzel and
B. Goertzel. BasicBooks, New York,
1995. XVII, 300 pp., hardcover
$27.50.-ISBN 0-465-00672-8
Force of Nature: The Life of Linus
Pauling. By I: Hagev. Simon &
Schuster, New York, 1995. 771 pp.,
hardcover $35.00.-ISBN
Linus Pauling in His Own Words: Selections from His Writings, Speeches,
and Interviews. Edited by B. Marinacci. Introduction by L. Pauling. A
Touchstone Book, Simon & Schuster,
New York, 1995. 320 pp., paperback
$ 15.00.-ISBN 0-684-81387-4
The life, both scientific and personal, of
Linus Pauling, the only person to have
received two unshared Nobel Prizes, was
characterized by controversy. Even within
his family, which was dedicated to his success, there was no consensus: “Linus
Pauling may be the closest embodiment,
in this age of uncertainty, amorality, and
constant conflict, of a living universal
hero.”-Linus Pauling, Jr.; “My father is
not the great man you think he is.”-Peter
Pauling (both quotations from the Goertzels’ book, pp. xiii and 220, respectively).
Almost everything about Pauling was
larger than life. The internationally acclaimed scientist, educator, humanitarian,
and political activist was characterized as
one of “the twenty greatest scientists of all
time, on a par with Newton, Darwin, and
Einstein” (New Scientist); as one of the
two greatest scientists of the 20th century,
the other being Einstein; and as the
greatest chemist since Antoine-Lament
Lavoisier, the 18th-century founder of
modern chemistry. His Nature of the
Chemical Bond (1939) is considered to be
This section contains book reviews and a list of
new books received by the editor. Book reviews are
written by invitation from the editor. Suggestions
for books to be reviewed and for book reviewers
are welcome. Publishers should send brochures or
(better) books to the editorial office: Redaktion
Angewandte Chemie, Postfach 10 1161, D-69451
Weinheim, Germany. The editor reserves the right
of selectingwhich books will be reviewed. Uninvited books not chosen for review will not be returned.
Ange”. Chem. hit. Ed. Engl. 1997, 36, No 15
one of the most influential and frequently
cited scientific books of the 20th century.
The Goertzels’ book, the first biography to be published since Pauling’s death
at age 93, is a family effort, encompassing
three generations, through the assistance
of Mildred Goertzel and Victor Goertzel
and with original drawings by Gwen
Goertzel. In 1962, more than three
decades ago, writer Mildred Goertzel and
psychologist Victor Goertzel began work
on this biography, with Pauling’s assistance, as a continuation of their work on
the childhood of eminent people (Cradles
of Eminence and Three Hundred Eminent
Personalities). Admiring Pauling especially for his leadership of the peace movement, they thought that this biography
would be “inspirational for young people
who might be thinking of a career in
science or involvement in worthy causes.”
Because they differed with Pauling
about the focus of the book (he wanted
the emphasis to be on his scientific work
rather than his personality), they abandoned the project for a number of years,
while continuing to follow Pauling’s career. They were troubled by Pauling’s crusade for megadoses of vitaminC in the
prevention and treatment of the common
cold and later by his treatment of the president and director of the Linus Pauling
Institute of Science and Medicine, Arthur
B. Robinson, whom they had interviewed
extensively and had come to know personally. They again resumed work on the
biography, which became “more critical,
less pacifist hagiography.”
The Goertzels then asked their eldest
son Ted, Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University with an interest in the psychosocial roots of political beliefs, to continue the project by adding more
interviews and material on Pauling’s later
scientific research and the controversies
about orthomolecular medicine. In 1991,
when they learned that Pauling had
prostate cancer, they decided that Ted
should prepare a final manuscript because
his parents’ health no longer allowed their
full participation and because a complete
rewrite by a single author would result in
a more coherent book. Ted then asked his
son, Benjamin, a mathematician and Lecturer in Cognitive Science at the Universi-
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ty of Western Australia, to help with the
chapters on Pauling’s scientific work,
which had come to occupy a more prominent part of the biography than originally
The resulting book, like Hager’s biography, deals with all aspects of Pauling’s life
and career from his birth in Portland,
Oregon on February 28, 1901 to his death
from cancer on his ranch near Big Sur on
August 19, 1994-his childhood; education; study of atomic and quantum
physics with Arnold Sommerfeld in
Munich, Erwin Schrodinger (consistently
spelled Schroedinger) in Zurich, and Niels
Bohr in Copenhagen; his professorships
at the California Institute of Technology,
the Center for the Study of Democratic
Institutions at Santa Barbara, California,
the University of California, San Diego,
and Stanford University; his use of one
science (physics) to explain another
(chemsitry); his combination of quantum
mechanics and X-ray diffraction to win
the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for
his research on the chemical bond and its
application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances”; his seminal
contributions to chemistry, quantum mechanics, X-ray crystallography, anesthesia, electronegativity, the structure of
proteins and DNA, nutrition, mineralogy,
nuclear physics, and immunology; his
work on molecular biology and orthomolecular medicine (a name that he
coined); his work for the U.S. government
during World War 11; his campaign
against nucIear weapons testing, which
earned him the 1962 Nobel Prize for
Peace; his evolution, encouraged by his
wife Ava Helen, from an ivory tower scientist to an ardent and articulate public
spokesman on technological issues and
the social responsibility of scientists; his
difficulties during the McCarthy era with
government committees and the refusal of
his passport application; his family life;
his advocacy of megadoses of vitamin C
for the common cold, cancer, and AIDS,
the controversial work for which he is
best known to the general public (Ted
Goertzel’s experience in statistical research methods was helpful here in making sense of the ongoing controversies
concerning vitamins and health); and his
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founding of the Pauling Institute and his
feuds and lawsuits with former collaborators.
Not content to describe these and other
events, the Goertzels have evaluated and
interpreted them in the context of Pauling’s public and private life and the state
of science at the time. Because the book is
intended for a general readership, they
provide much background material and
diagrams by Benjamin Goertzel’s wife
Gwen to elucidate the complexities of
quantum physics, X-ray diffraction, wave
mechanics, atomic and molecular orbitals
(although in Fig. 7, p. 70, the p and
d orbitals are mistakenly designated as s
and p orbitals), resonance, protein structures, DNA, and other technical topics
needed to understand the magnitude of
Pauling’s scientific contributions. Inasmuch as Pauling’s modus operandi was
largely intuitive, they devote considerable
attention to his psychological profile and
personality. Their book bears signs of
hasty proofreading and contains a number of misspellings of scientists’ names,
understandable because the authors are
not chemists.
In addition to primary and secondary
sources, the Goertzels have made extensive use of interviews with Pauling, his relatives, friends, colleagues, and contemporaries; the diary that Pauling kept as a boy
and that of his maternal grandfather, Linus Wilson Darling; the Linus and Ava
Helen Pauling Papers at Oregon State
University; and the results of Pauling’s
Rorschach inkblot tests that he had taken
as one of the subjects in Anne Roe’s classic
study The Making of a Scientist (1953).
(The latter results, along with their interpretations by eight psychologists to predict Pauling’s personality, appear in a
unique 22-page appendix-a feature that
we have not seen in any other biography
of Pauling. Victor Goertzel’s doctoral dissertation involved use of the Rorschach
test.) The Notes (5 pp.) and Selected References (2pp.) contain items as late as
1994 and one from 1995. Sixteen illustrations of Pauling and others are provided.
Although the Goertzels began their
project with Pauling’s cooperation and assistance and he was reviewing the
manuscript at the time of his death, their
book is in no way an authorized biography. They are critical of Pauling in many
ways. For example, they contrast Herman
Branson’s account of the discovery of the
or-helix with Pauling’s account; they thoroughly examine Pauling’s apparent betrayal of Arthur Robinson, his closest collaborator and disciple, who had left a
promising university position to cofound
the Pauling Institute; and they discuss
Matthias Rath’s lawsuit claiming that
Pauling had taken credit for his ideas on
vitamin C and heart disease.
However, the overall coherent picture
of Pauling that emerges from their book is
an objective but empathic one. They conclude that “Linus Pauling the man was
more than Pauling the chemist and, like
all human beings, had flaws as well as
virtues. Despite his intensely analytical
mind, he was capable of being relentlessly
driven by irrational emotions, a fact that
became particularly obvious in the last
decades of his life. In his later years, his
combativeness and defensiveness increasingly triumphed over his brilliance and
creativity ... In the long run, Linus Pauling
the chemist will be remembered and Linus
Pauling the man largely forgotten, but it
was the man who made the chemist possible.” With their great psychological insights, which evaluate Pauling’s weaknesses as well as strengths, the Goertzels
have succeeded admirably in going beyond Pauling’s public persona to portray
the most famous chemist of our time as an
ambitious, complex, conflicted human being who spoke his own mind and lived a
long life on his own terms.
Of the four biographies of Pauling that
we have read (Anthony Serafini, Linus
Pauling: A Man and His Science, Paragon
House, New York, 1989, David E. Newton, Linus Pauling: Scientist and Advocate, Facts on File, New York, 1994; and
the Goertzels’ and Hager’s books),
Hager’s biography, which appeared a
month later and is more than twice as long
as the Goertzels’, is by far the most authoritative, detailed, and comprehensive.
Thomas Hager, Director of Communications at the University of Oregon,
freelance science writer, and former correspondent for American Health and the
Journal of the American Medical Association, is, like Pauling, a native Oregonian
whose intimate familiarity with many of
the locales where Pauling spent much of
his youth is evident from his minute descriptions tht invoke striking, realistic images that border on the poetic.
Hager’s massive but eminently readable
biography is the product of five years of
thorough and meticulous research, involving more than forty hours of interviews with Pauling alone; scores of additional interviews with his family members,
colleagues, rivals, students, and critics;
personal correspondence; manuscripts;
laboratory notebooks; scientific and nonscientific publications ; archival materials;
and government documents, including
transcripts of Congressional Committee
hearings and more than 3,000 pages of recently declassified FBI files, which we
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have not seen utilized in other Pauling biographies.
Hager uses all these sources to sort out
opinion from fact and to dispel many of
the misconceptions that have surrounded
Pauling throughout his long life. In general, he is somewhat less critical of Pauling
than the Goertzels, but he acknowledges
his fierce competitiveness, litigiousness,
lack of affection for colleagues, students,
children, and family members - except for
his wife, who was his closest friend, confidant, and political mentor - in short, all of
the complexities and inconsistencies of a
creative, brilliant, and outspoken human
being who was neither saint nor sinner.
Hager’s book is uniformally excellent in
its treatment of the scientific, political,
and personal aspects of Pauling’s life.
Hager has left no stone unturned in ferreting out information on events from the
most significant to the relatively minor.
Among the topics that he discusses but
that the Goertzels fail to mention and that
some other biographers have neglected
are: J. Robert Oppenheimer’s attempt in
1929 to persuade Pauling’s wife to
join him on a tryst in Mexico; Warren
Weaver’s crucial role in providing funds
from the Rockefeller Foundation to support Pauling’s research; Pauling’s controversy with Dorothy Wrinch over the structure of proteins; his bout with lifethreatening Bright’s disease (nephritis);
his invention of the Pauling Oxygen Analyzer to monitor oxygen levels in submarines; and Pauling’s episode of being
trapped on a cliff near his cabin, which
produced a severe emotional reaction, a
rare occurrence for Pauling, who always
kept a firm grip on his feelings since his
traumatic childhood.
Hager thoroughly explores Pauling’s
most celebrated scientific deteat, which
dashed his hopes for a Nobel Prize for
Physiology or Medicine - his failure to
discover the structure of deoxyribonucleic
acid (DNA), the physical basis of heredity, which was reported in 1953 by James
D. Watson and Francis H. C. Crick. All
the participants and events in this socalled “race for the double helix” are discussed, and the reasons for Pauling’s loss
of the race are revealed in Hager’s book in
great detail. Hager even cites an incorrect
article on the structure of DNA by Edward Ronwin, a former CSUF chemistry
professor - a paper of which no one in our
department was aware.
Hager devotes considerable space to
Pauling’s political activities on behalf of
civil rights, nuclear disarmament, and
world peace. Although Pauling accomplished great and wonderful things and
acquired world renown, it is indeed unfor-
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Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 1997.36, No. 15
tunate that, because of these activities, he
was denied research grants and his
passport, was persecuted by the FBI and
other governmental agencies, and was defended and supported only halfheartedly
by the California Institute of Technology,
to which he devoted almost four decades
of his life, and snubbed by the American
Chemical Society, which he had served as
President in 1949. His battles with political enemies, although eventually resulting
in his ultimate vindication, consumed
much of his time and energy. As his wife
expressed it, “It is just a shame for Linus
to be wasting his talents in this way”
(p. 520).
It is interesting to speculate as to what
further discoveries Pauling might have
made had he not been deflected from his
goals by short-sighted, self-serving, mercenary, or jealous opponents. However,
he never became embittered. In one of his
last interviews (April 1,1994), in response
to our question as to how he was able to
retain his positive outlook on life, he told
us, “I suppose it’s partially genetic . . . actually the result of my having been pretty
successful in my own career, and, of
course, my feeling that we ought to be
smart enough, we human beings, to solve
our problems, whatever they are.”
As Pauling states in his autobiographical introduction (completed only a few
months before his death) to Linus Pauling
in His Own Words, “Up to now . . . there
have been no general anthologies of my
written words to provide lay readers with
an overview of the many different interests that I have pursued during my lifetime.” Fortunately, Barbara Marinacci, a
consultant with the Pauling Institute who
knew Pauling personally for many years,
the sister of his son-in-law, and editor of
his book N o More War!, has produced a
representative anthology of excerpts,
about one-fifth published here for the first
time, ranging from a sentence to several
pages in length, from more than one hundred sources, including publications and
a number of unpublished manuscripts,
notes, and interviews.
Because her book is intended for a general rather than a scholarly readership,
Marinacci has made minor editorial
changes to reduce redundancies, added
transitional words or sentences, and
blended individual fragments. Although
sources for specific fragments are not always identified, they are listed in chronological order for each of the 12 chapters in
a separate section titled “Notes on
Sources.” Marinacci has provided an insightful preface and a useful four-page
chronology summarizing Pauling’s life
and career, and she has inserted explanaAngew. Chem. Int. Ed Engl. 1997.36, No. 15
tory material (from a sentence to a page
and in boldface type) between quotations
to set the context.
The book is divided into three sections
of three chapters each: I. The Path of
Learning 1901-1922; 11. The Structure of
Matter 1922-1954; 111. The Nuclear Age
1945- 1994; and IV. Nutritional Medicine
1954-1994. This vivid self-portrait of an
extraordinary scientist and humanist who
possessed one of the greatest minds of our
time makes a perfect complement to the
Goertzels’ and Hager’s biographies discussed above. And until the long-awaited
multivolume work-in-progress by chemist
and science historian Robert J. Paradowski of the Rochester Institute of Technology, Pauling’s official biographer and
author of the 1972 doctoral dissertation,
The Structural Chemistry of Linus Pauling, appears, Hager’s book may be regarded as definitive.
George B. Kauffman
and Laurie M . Kauffman
California State University
Fresno, CA (USA)
Edward Frankland: Chemistry, Controversy and Conspiracy in Victorian
England. By C . A . Russell. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
1996. xx +535 pp., hardcover
$ 110.00, .€ 65.00.-ISBN
Colin A. Russell, Professor Emeritus of
History of Science and Technology at the
Open University, spent the first half of his
career as a practicing chemist. He first encountered Edward Frankland, the most
eminent chemist in Victorian Britain,
more than three and
a half decades ago
while working on
his doctoral thesis
(London University, 1962) on the rise
and development of
valency-one of the
most fundamental
concepts of modern
chemistry and one
inextricably linked
with Frankland’s name. This thesis
formed the basis for the first in-depth
study of the subject, The History of Valency (Leicester University Press, 1971).
Russell learned that Frankland, who is
relatively unknown today, had been born
a few miles from where he and his wife and
frequent collaborator, Shirley Russell,
were living. In the belief that Frankland’s
childhood and youth were his most for-
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Weinheim, 1997
mative years, he delved into local history,
leading to the publication of Lancastrian
Chemist: the early years of Sir Edward
Frankland (Open University Press, 1986).
In a sense the volume under review
here, the first scientific biography of
Frankland, is a sequel to Lancastrian
Chemist, but it is also complete in itself.
Although Frankland himself wrote his
own recollections, Sketches,from the life of
Sir Edward Frankland (privately printed,
1901; 2nd [expurgated] edition, 1902), it
was incomplete and had the usual limitations inherent in any autobiography, and
almost all copies of the first edition were
withdrawn within months of its release.
Thus the raw data for an extended biography were unavailable until Colin and
Shirley Russell discovered a vast collection of Frankland papers in private
hands. The Russells located and microfilmed other privately owned documents,
traveling across the world in some cases.
An account of their preliminary work on
these and other documents that have recently come to light appeared in Brit. J.
Hist. Sci. 1990, 23, 175. Not until Russell
had digested this hitherto unpublished
mass of material as well as primary and
secondary sources from university, institutional, industrial, and governmental
archives in Britain, Germany, New
Zealand, and the United States, did he begin to write his latest book, which is a
major new assessment not only of the life
and work of “this self-made man from
Lancaster alone”, but also of the scientific
and cultural environment in which he
Edward Frankland was born on January 18, 1825 in Churchtown, Lancashire,
the illegitimate son of Margaret Frankland, who had been a servant in the home
of Edward Gorst, a prominent lawyer.
Frankland’s father was the latter’s son,
Edward Gorst, Jr., later also a distinguished lawyer. According to Russell, his
illegitimacy, a secret that had to be suppressed, left him with a keen sense of social insecurity that contributed to his driving ambition to advance himself socially
and monetarily, to be accepted by the
chemical community, and to prove to
himself that he had overcome his inherited
disabilities, a dominant motivation
throughout his life.
After attendance at eight schools and
an apprenticeship in a druggist’s shop in
Lancaster, none of which provided him
with the scientific education that he desired, at age 20 Frankland traveled to
London to study systematic chemical
analysis in Lyon Playfair’s laboratory (a
journey described with incredible attention to local color and detail in Russell’s
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