Merril Eisenbud's ability to focus his intelligence and ingenuity on practical scientific problems that need investigation has involved him in many crucial environmental issues for more than half a century. Eisenbud's research has almost invariably concerned the problems modern industrial civilization has brought to humanity. His solutions have been at the same time scientifically sound, practical, and sensitive to the concerns of people affected by the problems.
Eisenbud's autobiography is largely a professional one that records such varied experiences as observing the hazards to Christmas shoppers in Gimbels department store, efforts during World War II to alleviate the risks of accelerated wartime industrial production, pioneering work with the Atomic Energy Commission to determine the range of fallout from testing, academic research on the Hudson River, and the tribulations and triumphs of a scientist serving in a political position. In the process of recounting his career, Eisenbud informs us painlessly about the growth of the field of occupational medicine and safety, the role of the AEC in the development of the nuclear industry, the necessity of involving science in the formulation of public policy, and how the system that funds scientific research operates. Along with the serious material, however, he entertains us with intriguing accounts of curious cases he has encountered during a lifetime of scientific investigation.