Robert Kanigel

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Robert Kanigel
BornMay 28, 1946
WebsiteOfficial website

Robert Kanigel (born May 28, 1946) is an American biographer and science writer, known as the author of seven books and more than 400 articles, essays, and reviews.

Early life[edit]

Born in Brooklyn, Kanigel graduated from Stuyvesant High School in New York City, and received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.[1]


After college, he held three engineering jobs before becoming a freelance writer in 1970. Over the next 30 years, Kanigel lived and wrote in Baltimore, Maryland and San Francisco, California.[1] His articles appeared in magazines including the Johns Hopkins Magazine, Baltimore Sun, The New York Times Magazine, New York Times Book Review, Wilson Quarterly, Change, American Health, Psychology Today, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Science 85, The Sciences, Mosaic, Longevity, National Observer, and Human Behavior.

His first book, Apprentice to Genius: The Making of a Scientific Dynasty, was published in 1986. This was followed by The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan in 1991; The One Best Way: Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency in 1999;[2] High Season: How One French Riviera Town Has Seduced Travelers for Two Thousand Years in 2002; and Faux Real: Genuine Leather and 200 Years of Inspired Fakes in 2007. Vintage Reading: From Plato to Bradbury, a Personal Tour of Some of the World's Best Books, published in 1998, is a compilation of 80 book reviews.[3]

In 1999, Kanigel became professor of science writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he helped start its Graduate Program in Science Writing, which he directed for seven years. In 2011, he returned to live and write in Baltimore.[4] He is currently working on a biography of Jane Jacobs.

Kanigel's latest book, On An Irish Island, published by Knopf, is an ensemble biography of the scholars, linguists, and writers who visited Ireland's Blasket Islands during the early twentieth century.[5]

Awards and honors[edit]



  • Apprentice to Genius: The Making of a Scientific Dynasty. Macmillan hardcover, 1986. Johns Hopkins University Press paperback, 1993. Taiwanese edition, Commonwealth Publishing, 1998. Chinese edition, Shanghai Scientific, 2001. ISBN 0-8018-4757-5
  • The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan. Scribner's hardcover, 1991. U.K. hardcover, Scribner's, 1991. Washington Square Press paperback, 1992. U.K. paperback, Abacus, 1992. Indian edition, Rupa, 1992. German edition, Vieweg Verlag, 1993. Cassette book, National Library for the Blind, 1993. Japanese edition, Kousakusha, 1994. Korean edition, Science Books, 2000. Chinese editions, Shanghai Scientific, 2002, 2008. Italian edition, Rizzoli, 2003. Thai edition, Matichon, 2007. Audio edition, Blackstone Audio, 2007. Greek edition, Travlos, 2008. ISBN 0-671-75061-5
  • The One Best Way: Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency. Viking hardcover, 1997. U.K. hardcover, Little, Brown 1997. Penguin paperback, 1999. U.K. paperback, Abacus, 2000. MIT Press paperback, 2005. ISBN 0-14-026080-3
  • Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs. Knopf, 2016. ISBN 978-0307961907
  • Vintage Reading: From Plato to Bradbury, a Personal Tour of Some of the World's Best Books. Bancroft Press, 1998. E-book edition, 2010. ISBN 0-9631246-7-6
  • Ideas Into Words: Mastering the Craft of Science Writing. 2004. Co-author: Elise Hancock


  1. ^ a b Robert, Kanigel. "Video Lecture". Writing and Humanistic Studies. Video Lectures. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  2. ^ O'Mara, Richard (12 June 1997). "Baltimore author Robert Kanigel works over the most complex matters, just like his latest biography subject, Frederick Winslow Taylor, father of efficient living". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  3. ^ ., . "About Robert Kanigel's "Vintage Reading"". About Robert Kanigel's "Vintage Reading". Bancroft Press. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  4. ^ Malhotra, Richa (10 December 2011). "In Conversation" (PDF). Current Science. 101 (11): 1410–1412. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  5. ^ ., . "Harvard Bookstore Event". Robert Kanigel Reads From "On an Irish Island". Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  6. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Fellow Biography. John SImon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  7. ^ ., . "Class of 1960 Fellows". Class of 1960 Fellows. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on 19 July 2001. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  8. ^ "The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Technology Book Series". Public Understanding of Science. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Archived from the original on 3 January 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  9. ^ "National Book Critics Circle Awards". Past Finalists and Winners. National Book Critics Circle. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  10. ^ Marks, Marjorie (September 8, 1991). "Finalists for the 1990-1991 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 January 2012.

External links[edit]