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Kameshwar Wali


The battle between Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and Sir Arthur Eddington over the fate of collapsing stars is a well known example of how a young researcher had his ideas unfairly treated because of the views of an established scientist. Wali's biography covers this period in detail, but also tells of Chandra's subsequent career as an eminent astrophysicist. We hear of his central position in the astrophysics community as editor of the Astrophysical Journal and of him being awarded the Nobel prize in 1983. The book serves as an excellent example of a scientist who didn't dwell on the wrongs that had been done to him, but instead went on to excel in his field of study.

The last chapter of the book consists of conversations with the author, giving an indication of Chandrasekar's views on his life and the people he worked with. However, on the whole I felt that the book was rather formal compared to Arthur Miller's Empire of the Stars. Wali's book is certainly a more comprehensive biography, but I didn't feel that it did so well in communicating Chandra's outlook on life and the problems he had faced. (For a discussion between the two see this discussion at  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews