Books: A Man of Two Cultures

C.P. Snow: 1905-1980 "I'm a fairly clever chap and can put my hand to things," C.P. Snow liked to say. The self-appraisal was a classic of good British understatement. Snow put his hand to a stunning variety of things. He was a novelist, essayist, biographer, physicist, playwright, civil servant, company director, government official. Member of Parliament, teacher and public lecturer. His death last week at age 74 brought to an end not one life but many.

Snow's distinguished careers began in modest circumstances; he championed ambition and meritocracy because he was the...

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