Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and Their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize
Sean B. Carroll
Crown, 2013 ($28)

Carroll, an evolutionary biologist, recounts the surprising tale of how two of France's most extraordinary 20th-century minds, biologist Jacques Monod and writer Albert Camus, each survived and rebelled against the Nazi occupation of France only to become close friends in the years leading up to their fame and receipt of Nobel Prizes. (Monod's Nobel was in medicine; Camus's was in literature.) Using a wealth of newly discovered letters and other documentation, Carroll beautifully encapsulates how two men seemingly so far apart in their philosophies and achievements both ended up sharing “exceptional lives” transformed by “exceptional events.”