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Carolyn Abraham
Possessing Genius



Book Cover

Possessing Genius tells the story of a man obsessed, despite his utter inability to get any significant scientific studies done for almost thirty years, by his sense of duty to preserve what could be a key to unlocking the mystery of intelligence — a collection of putty-grey lumps of human tissue floating in two large mason jars. It dramatically evokes the shift from scientists' morbid curiosity in a grisly specimen to the serious questions and hypotheses inspired by the existence of the grey matter, including ground-breaking work done on Einstein's brain by Canadian neuropathologist Sandra Witelson.

Indeed, as Carolyn Abraham explains, the bizarre story of Einstein's brain is driven by the astonishing developments in neurological science over the past fifty years, changes that have reshaped both the scientific landscape and our sense of what makes us who we are. Possessing Genius's compelling narrative also explores the rabid culture of celebrity that has infected every aspect of our society, including serious scientific study, and that has had tragic effects on the ordinary man who, for nearly half a century, possessed a little bit of the world's most celebrated genius.


Praise for Carolyn Abraham's Possessing Genius:

Winner of the Canadian Science Writers' Association 2001 Science in Society Book Award

Nominated for the 2002 Governor General's Award for Nonfiction

"Abraham teases apart the strands of the whole bizarre, convoluted, ghoulish story of what happened to Einstein's brain [and] covers all the angles — scientific, ethical, and humorous." —Booklist

"Possessing Genius offers ... a picaresque case history that shows, in unforgettable detail, that life is stranger than satire, and no man can remain dignified after he is dead." —The Globe and Mail

"An enthralling book." —Charlotte Gray, Ottawa Citizen

"The story Abraham tells is so engaging that the brain becomes an intriguing character." —Los Angeles Times


Length: 416 pp
Setting: US
Period: 20th century
Publication Date: Oct 15 2002

North American English rights, Penguin Canada

For all other rights contact The Cooke Agency.
Carolyn Abraham

Carolyn Abraham is an award-winning science writer who spent 14 years as the senior medical reporter for The Globe and Mail, Canada's leading national newspaper. Her features, focusing on the intersection of science and society, have earned more than eight national awards, including four from the Canadian Science Writers Association, and two National Newspaper Awards.

Carolyn Abraham appears often as an on-air television commentator on medical issues, wrote the chapter on the SARS outbreak in Canada at the request of the World Health Organization and co-wrote the NFB production entitled DNA and Dollars. Her first book formed the basis of the National Geographic documentary on Einstein's brain that was broadcast in 14 countries. Carolyn lives in Toronto. For more information on her work please see www.carolynabraham.ca.