Levi’s memoir beats Darwin to win science book title

From The Guardian:

Primo Levi’s haunting memoir of life as a Jew in Mussolini’s Italy told through the unlikely metaphor of chemistry has been named the best science book ever written. The Periodic Table, published in 1975, fought off competition from Richard Dawkins, DNA legend James Watson, Tom Stoppard, Bertolt Brecht and Charles Darwin to win the vote at an event organised by the Royal Institution in London.

“This book pinions my awareness to the solidity of the world around me,” said former Guardian science editor Tim Radford, who was the book’s advocate at the event. “The science book is the ultimate in non-fiction,” he told the Guardian’s weekly science podcast. “You’ve got the entire universe and the entire sub-atomic world to choose from and everything that has happened in it.”

Levi survived Auschwitz and later became a chemist in postwar Italy before committing suicide in 1987.

His memoir narrowly beat Stoppard’s play Arcadia and King Solomon’s Ring, the ecologist Konrad Lorenz’s 1952 eulogy to the natural world, a book described by the event’s chair, author Jon Turney, as “the most charming ever written by a Nazi”.

More here.