Eric J. Chaisson reviews Giant Telescopes: Astronomical Ambition and the Promise of Technology, by W. Patrick McCray, at American Scientist Online:

As an arriving student at Harvard more than 30 years ago, I sought out some famous astronomers at a reception to welcome newcomers. As I approached them, planning to introduce myself, I couldn’t help overhearing the end of a conversation that shocked me: A visiting astronomer was telling the observatory director heatedly, “Your observatory is getting too damn big!” He glanced at me with disdain and walked away. Welcome, indeed, to the big leagues of astronomy.

The visitor that day was Jesse Greenstein of Caltech, a powerful champion of small, elite academic programs designed to serve only a few astronomers, giving them private access to the biggest telescopes. And the recipient of his ire was Leo Goldberg, whose Harvard College Observatory took a team approach to astronomy and space science; Goldberg often supported drives to build national telescopes for use by all astronomers.

More here.