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The Murder of Nikolai Vavilov: The Story of Stalin's Persecution of One of the Twentieth Century's Greatest Scientists

Peter Pringle.
Publisher J.R.Books Ltd  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
ISBN 9781906217914
Pages/Publication Date 371/2009
Daedalus Item Code 33919
This item is not available.
The former Moscow bureau chief of London's Independent and the author of Food, Inc., Peter Pringle re-creates the extraordinary life and tragic end of a brilliant geneticist who fell victim to Soviet politics. Nikolai Vavilov dreamed of ending hunger and famine in the world, using genetics to breed plants that could grow anywhere, in any climate, and could help create a Socialist utopia. Lenin supported the handsome young professor, and he became a real-life Indiana Jones, hunting botanical treasures on five continents. But Vavilov's bourgeois background made him a ready scapegoat after Stalin took over in 1924, and when genetic science was suppressed in favor of the fraudulent theories of peasant horticulturalist Trofim Lysenko, Vavilov was sentenced to death—by starvation—in the gulag.

"A well-researched and well-written study of the murder of an outstanding Soviet geneticist and the ideological perversion of science. Pringle details the life and career of Nikolai Vavilov (1887–1943) through his rise in the early Soviet scientific establishment and awarding of the Lenin Prize. Vavilov was a scientist's scientist, traveling the world to collect seeds and plants unavailable in Russia in order to transform Soviet and even world agriculture, and ensure the survival of humanity through an adequate food supply. He was one of the U.S.S.R.'s top scientists when Soviet authorities fell in love with the now-discredited notions of a rival scientist, Trofim Lysenko, who believed in the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Using recently opened archives, Pringle is able to detail Vavilov's arrest on trumped-up charges of sabotage and spying, his torture and death in prison. Pringle has added another page to the lengthy tale of the deadly workings of the Soviet bureaucracy—and the toll of Stalin's terror on the world by turning science into propaganda."—Publishers Weekly

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