Broken Genius: The Rise and Fall of William Shockley, Creator of the Electronic Age

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Palgrave Macmillan, Jun 13, 2006 - History - 378 pages
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When William Shockley invented the transistor, the world was changed forever and he was awarded the Nobel Prize. But today Shockley is often remembered only for his incendiary campaigning about race, intelligence, and genetics. His dubious research led him to donate to the Nobel Prize sperm bank and preach his inflammatory ideas widely, making shocking pronouncements on the uselessness of remedial education and the sterilization of individuals with IQs below 100. Ultimately his crusade destroyed his reputation and saw him vilified on national television, yet he died proclaiming his work on race as his greatest accomplishment. Now, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Joel N. Shurkin offers the first biography of this contradictory and controversial man. With unique access to the private Shockley archives, Shurkin gives an unflinching account of how such promise ended in such ignominy.


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User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

If there's a poster child for the concept of social intelligence than William Shockley was that man. There seems to be little other explanation for the deficiencies that led to the self-destruction of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DonSiano - LibraryThing

Joel Shurkin has done a reasonably good job in this book, and it is well worth reading if you have an interest in the history of technology and the forces that shape our times. Shockley was a very ... Read full review


The lightness of being
Of a highly explosive character
Theres enough glory in this for everybody
To do my climbing by moonlight unroped
Wellequipped female with brains
Really peculiar ideas about how to motivate people
Three generations of imbeciles are enough
What law of nature have you discovered?
Someday we may actually be terribly alone
The high cost of thinking the unthinkable

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About the author (2006)

Joel N. Shurkin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of many books, including Engines of the Mind and Terman's Kids. He lives in Washington, DC.

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