Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Nobel Laureates: The Secret of Their Success by David Pratt Proves to be Excellent Scholarly Research on Lives of Laureates

Alfred Nobel Established the Nobel Prizes
On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his third and last will at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris. When it was opened and read after his death, the will caused a lot of controversy both in Sweden and internationally, as Alfred Nobel had left much of his wealth for the establishment of a prize.

PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE - Monday 3 October, 11:30 a.m. at the earliest
PHYSICS - Tuesday 4 October, 11:45 a.m. at the earliest 
CHEMISTRY - Wednesday 5 October, 11:45 a.m. at the earliest 
PEACE - Friday 7 October, 11:00 a.m.
ECONOMIC SCIENCES - Monday 10 October, 11:45 a.m. at the earliest 
LITERATURE - The date will be set later. 
Times listed are local time in Swede

For many of us, David Pratt, has taken us into a world we would never really know without his book, Nobel Laureates: The Secret of Their Success. Sure, we all hear on the news when the new recipient is named, some of us may even recognize the name. We recognize that it is a prestigious award and think good thoughts about the latest receiving recognition for what he has contributed in his life. But, until we hear about another named recipient, we may not think about these brilliant individuals whose lives have benefited us in some wonderful way. I was pleased to have the opportunity to received David Pratt's scholarly research into this world and present it for those who wish to learn more about these individuals and the world in which they've lived...

Nobel Laureates:
The Secret of Their Success

By David Pratt

But first, who is David Pratt? An important part of deciding about a nonfiction book is who researched and wrote the book. Let's meet David Pratt:

David Pratt was born in Britain at the beginning of World War II. After graduating from university, he moved first to the United States and then to Canada.
In Canada, he taught high school for four years, then did graduate work at the University of Toronto, and accepted a position at Queen’s University, where he remained for 28 years. He published extensively on academic subjects, leaving the university in 1997 in order to write full-time.
His fiction and poetry have appeared in over 100 literary journals in Canada, the United States, Britain, and Australia.
See my latest publications at Smashwords, called This Continent Called Love: Quotations from the Nobel Prize Winners; For the Thinking Executive: 916 Quotations from Nobel Laureates; and Unconquerable Crete: An Epic Poem.

Readers of the book will quickly see the extensive reading and references used throughout the book and many will recognize the specific information about Laureates themselves... With this kind of book I don't have to worry about giving anything away so I want to share an excerpt that I found profoundly sad...

Never Shall I Forget These Things--We can never know how many men and women of genius perished in the Holocaust. Two Novel writers who survived the terrible experiences of the Nazi concentration campus were Elie Wiesel (Peace 1986) and Imre Kertesz (Literature, 2002). Elie Wiesel was born in Romania in 1928, the son of an orthodox Jewish shopkeeper. In May 1944, the family was deported to Auschwitz. Elie's mother and younger sister perished there.
Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. 
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. 
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. 
Never shall I forget those moments which murdered by God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. 
Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God himself. 

Wiesel was forced to witness the death of his father, but had been liberated by the American army...The thing most amazing was that, included in the book, was direct evidence that showed that the number of Laureates from Germany significantly decreased during Hitler's regime. Or, if you think of it as I did. Hitler destroyed the very people who could have led Germany to be great--but blind hatred had ruined all of that for his own country...

Jonas Kaufmann Soloist at the Nobel Prize Concert 2016
Jonas Kaufmann, "the most important versatile tenor of his generation", will perform at the Nobel Prize Concert in Stockholm, Sweden, on 8 December 2016. Gianandrea Noseda, newly appointed music director at the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC, USA, will lead the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

I found shelter either in houses
that were bombed out or in houses
that were given up by other people.
One of the places that we stayed
was actually a house that the
Germans were using for torturing
people. When you went in there,
all of the body parts were just left
there on the floor. So I saw all sorts
of body parts that were just cut off:
fingers, noses, ears, and so on.
This would be between the ages
of 5 and 8.
Without being able to share much about the book, I thought I'd include a couple of the interesting titles of the 27 chapters... For instance we start out with "Unless you're poor, you don't know what poor means..."  Consider that each year only one out of every 600 million people on earth are selected to win a Nobel. Most would consider that such prize winners must come from rich or academically involved homes. But being poor doesn't preclude selection. Take for instance Mario

Capecchi who won the 2007 prize for Medicine--he spent his childhood as a street kid during war in Italy... His response to that time is perfectly understandable as he witnessed the remains/parts of people tortured by the Germans.

I was intrigued by the chapter,
"Fatherless Children," when George Wald, Medicine, 1967, shared that what was really needed was not nobel laureates, but love.
Since I never had a father, as Wald, it was interesting to
consider that "wanting love" was what led to his working all the time. Then he declared that the Nobel was a consolation prize.
What do you think? Since I and my siblings have always worked hard at whatever they did, it does make for considerable thought. For us, my mother loved us, but she worked all the time to keep us alive and healthy... It was noted that "the success of these laureates is a tribute to the energy and devotion of their mothers..." I agreed, of course!

Some conceptual thoughts came through in other chapters, such as "getting married and stay married, or having an important teacher or mentor, or never being willing to give in...and perhaps even luck...

And then there was Einstein who was said to be eccentric who calmly explained, "When I was young, I found out that the big toe always ends in making a hole in a sock. So I stopped wearing socks..." I think I would have liked Einstein, but most of the Laureates were down-to-earth, lacked pretension and many, was of few words...

The book is full of not only personal references to recipients but also provides various statistical charts, for instance, about the country where recipients lives (although it was noted that many home countries claim them even if they had emigrated. The break down of categories by men and women and age...another. 

When I started reading this, I immediately thought that the audience for the book would be educators, academicians, scientists and those who work in the specific categories of the prizes. Now, I would add that it is an important source of information to parents, teachers and anybody who is interested in the youth of our countries across the world. I can't help but wonder how many potential Laureates, who would have given to the world as a whole, have died before their time due to the power-hungry greed of war mongers.

My final smile from the book, quoting William Fowler, Physics, 1983, given I say this all the time to my sister when she says, "what are you doing, working?" and I think about, and sometimes say..."no, I'm having fun reading and  blogging."

Speaking to university students in Stockholm, said: Fellow students, there will be hard work and heart break in your futures but there will also be stimulating intellectual pleasure and joy. In less pompous language, I call it fun.

Highly recommended...