GENIUS IN THE SHADOWS: A Biography of Leo Szilard, The Man Behind the Bomb by William Lanouette (Charles Scribner's Sons). Known in scientific circles as the "father of the atom bomb," in this biography the theoretical physicist is portrayed as a charming, unworldly dreamer doing his best thinking in the bathtub and offending academic colleagues with his whimsical style of practicing science. He was the first to realize the possibility of obtaining energy from nuclear chain reactions, yet once atomic weaponry became a reality he was appalled at what he had accomplished and spent the rest of his life, along with other endeavors, attempting to end the nuclear arms race he had helped create.
The Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists and winners are selected in each category by an independent panel of judges. Winners will be announced in the Book Review issue of October 31.