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Lev Landau, the eminent Russian physicist, lay dying after an automobile accident. His skull was fractured, his pelvis shattered, his viscera ruptured. Four times he seemed to slip away from life, and four times a team of specialists pulled him back.
This dramatic event led the author to prepare a popular biography of Landau the man. And just as dramatic as his return from apparent death is the story of his earlier days, when he assisted at the birth of a new physics. Bohr, Gamow, Pauli, Heisenberg, men who shaped the atomic age, move continually through Landau's life. Landau learned from them, argued with them, and, in turn, taught them.
Interwoven with these intellectual events of the 20's and 30's are the political upheavals of the same era. Russia was in turmoil and the wide-spread persecutions did not spare scientists. Landau himself, thrown into prison, escaped long internment only by
Holloran JF. The Man They Wouldn't Let Die. JAMA. 1965;193(9):747. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090090053032
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