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Nobel Laureates: The Secret of Their Success

"If the path to the Nobel Prize is uncertain, are there common factors among Nobel laureates that help to account for their achievements?” the author, David Pratt asks. “Is their childhood privileged or challenging? Are they precocious as children? Are teachers important in their lives or are they self-taught? How significant is gender? Do Nobel Prize winners work in solitude or in collaboration? How important to their success are intelligence, persistence, creativity, and intuition? Is marital stability a factor? How many of them have experienced tragedy, or imprisonment, or exile, or war at first hand? Is eccentricity a necessary part of their genius? Has anyone ever refused the Nobel Prize? Do many laureates agree with Doris Lessing (Literature, 2007), who called the prize “a bloody disaster”? Who has been overlooked by the Nobel selectors? Collectively, the answers to these questions provide guideposts to the pathways to extraordinary achievement. But the secret of their success is something different.

The book is crammed with anecdotes and examples from the lives of some two hundred and fifty laureates. Tables summarize occupations of fathers of all the laureates, universities with which they were affiliated, and gender and age distributions. A lucid and engaging style, ample notes, and a full index make the book enjoyably easy to read.

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