Hardcover: Paperback
Sale price$22.30


Hardcover: 334 pages

Published by: Adelaide Books, December 2, 2018

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1949180530

ISBN-13: 978-1949180534

Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches


The Speed of Dark reveals how the author, his mother the daughter of the French Rothschild banking dynasty and his father a world-renowned cellist, broke the chain of his lineage of art, music and banking to establish an important career in science. Born in the rural Adirondacks as an American citizen after his European parents and sister narrowly escaped Nazi Germany, he spoke French before English, was raised with financial security, was exposed to Rothschild palaces visiting his French grandparents, felt as a foreigner with his Russian family in Moscow, and often felt French in his native America. As a child, he felt simultaneously as his father’s son, yet a guest in the audience when listening to the pinnacle of music played in his home by the greatest artists. As a developing scientist, he benefited by his charismatic father’s influence who asked such an original, imaginative question, “What about the speed of dark?” Unlike other memoirs about rising from adversity to success, the author brings the reader into the privilege of having a unique family in which the extraordinary is ordinary, and the challenge of being asked, “Are you a failure like the sons of all great men?”

The Speed of Dark will resonate with musicians, those interested in art, music and history, and those who seek to carve their own path in a world filled with high expectations and seemingly unlimited resources.” (Sel Kardan, President, Colburn School of Performing Arts, LA)

“The clear and elegant prose on the theme of collecting reveals a dedication and self-understanding that is rare.” (Michael Hall, PhD, Curator of the Rothschild family collections, Exbury Estate, Hampshire, GB)

“Piatigorsky’s memoir will provide particular interest to students, scholars, and fellow collectors knowledgeable in the creative traditions of Native North American artists.” (Bernadette Driscoll Engelstad, Independent Curator, Inuit Art)

“Piatigorsky’s memoir demonstrates that artistry can be found in science.” (Joseph Horwitz, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology/Biophysics, Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA)

“Piatigorsky’s unique story will receive a wide audience: professional and lay scientists, art collectors, musicians, historians, writers and those who have struggled to find their identity.” (Hamid Shams, BBP Films Producer and Cinematographer)

“This memoir is not just worth reading, it is worth remembering!” (James Mathews, Author of Last Known Position)

“This fascinating account of his journey becomes a meditation on art, wonder, and creativity, of bucking the status quo and following one's heart. “ (Barbara Esstman, Author of The Other Anna, Night Ride Home, and A More Perfect Union)



During his 50-year career at the National Institutes of Health, Joram Piatigorsky has published some 300 scientific articles and a book, Gene Sharing and Evolution (Harvard University Press, 2007), lectured worldwide, received numerous research awards, including the prestigious Helen Keller Prize for vision research, served on scientific editorial boards, advisory boards and funding panels, and trained a generation of scientists. Presently an emeritus scientist, he collects Inuit art, is on the Board of Directors of The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, blogs (, and has published a series of personal essays in the journal Lived Experience and a novel, Jellyfish Have Eyes (IPBooks, 2014). He has two sons, five grandchildren, and lives with his wife in Bethesda, Maryland.



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