Enrico Fermi dominated the field of physics, as his work greatly advanced scientists' understanding of atomic behavior.
The book covers his family ackground, his precocious interest in math and science, his preparation for his career, and his professional work. Because of Italy's repressive form of government in the 1920s and 1930s, Fermi always felt that he should emigrate. But the government would not let its citizens just leave.
Fermi's opportunity came when in 1938 he was named the Nobel Prize winner in physics. With his wife and 2 children, he traveled to Sweden to collect his prize, and immediately sailed for the U.S., where a professorship was available. This proved to be a stroke of luck for America, because with the U.S. entering World War II, Fermi joined other scientists in research to help win the war. It was in Chicago that he proved that an atomic bomb was possible. In the western desert, a bomb was successfully tested. Its use on Japan hastened the end of the war. Fermi then campaigned to have atomic energy placed under civilian control, rather than under the military. He hoped that this tremendous new source of energy would be used only for peaceful purposes.
Personally, Fermi was a modest person with a good sense of humor. He realized that he had been given a great gift in his scientific ability - an ability to design and carry out experiments as well as work out relationships mathematically.
Fermi brought honor to his native Italy as well as to his adopted homeland, the U.S.