April 18, 1955, was an auspicious day for Thomas Stoltz Harvey.
As chief pathologist at Princeton Hospital, he had been called to
do an autopsy on a corpse seven hours old. It was a routine
procedure with one significant difference: This was the cadaver of
Harvey saw, in Einstein''s corpse, a chance to do something
"noble,"to contribute in some way to the annals of science. So
before he stitched the body shut, Thomas Harvey removed the brain
of the twentieth century''s greatest intellectual hero. He took it
without permission, but struck a deal with Einstein''s family to
keep it, becoming the custodian of this remarkable relic-preserving
it for posterity and the scientists he deemed worthy to study it.
He promised to guard the brain from souvenir hunters and publicity
seekers and vowed that any information about it would appear only
in serious scientific journals. He had no idea that the power of
Einstein'''' celebrity would engulf the rest of his life.
Possessing Genius tells the story of a man obsessed by
his conviction that a collection of brain tissue might some day
solve the mystery of genius. Painstakingly researched, it includes
never-before-published correspondence between Harvey and the
executor of Einstein''s estate that sheds new light on how the
brain fell into one manÕs hands. It dramatically evokes the shift
from scientists'' morbid curiosity about an amazing specimen to the
serious questions and hypotheses inspired by the existence of the
organ, including the widely touted work on Einstein''s brain by
Canadian neuropsychologist Sandra Witelson.
Possessing Genius won the Canadian Science
Writers'' Association''s 2001 Science in Society Book Award and has
been nominated for the 2002 Governor General''s Award for