Review of Todes' Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science

Here is the review by the eminent historian of the social sciences, Prof. Roger Smith, of Daniel P. Todes' 2014 biography, Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science (Oxford University Press). It appears on the Somatosphere.Net website. Smith opens his review by saying, "It is going to be difficult for reviewers to avoid clichés about this wonderful biography – and wonderful it is, as both a work of scholarship and as a highly readable story of a truly ‘Russian life in science’. Some basic things can be clearly stated: it is the first comprehensive and thoroughly researched biography of Pavlov in any language; and it is definitive, by which I mean that anyone who remarks on Pavlov in the future without assimilating this study simply has not done her or his homework….To my mind, a biography such as this exemplifies what humanistic research has to contribute to public discussion of the place of science in the modern world. Todes has made himself fully at home in the theoretical and experimental technicalities of Pavlov’s work throughout the sixty years in which he was a formidably active and forceful scientist. Biologists and historians alike can read this volume and feel their own special interests addressed. I read it from cover to cover with unalloyed pleasure." The remainder of the review is much more detailed and helpful.