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This is the most complete and only full-length biography available of the legendary inventor of dynamite and founder of the prizes that bear his name, Alfred Nobel. Nobel's story-which the New York Review of Books described as "extraordinary"-reads better than most commercial fiction. Born in poverty, Nobel devised a way to detonate nitroglycerine safely and make a new explosive called dynamite available for commercial exploitation. The discoveries and ensuing patents made him fabulously wealthy-but ultimately lonely. Spurned by the only woman he ever loved, he began a long and stormy romance with a flower girl named Sofie Hess, whom he eventually abandoned after she became pregnant by another man. Deeply disturbed that the press of the day had labeled him "the merchant of death," Nobel bequeathed his entire fortune (as written in a one-page, cryptically worded will fiercely contested by his family) toward the foundation of prizes celebrating peace, literature, and scientific achievement. Fant makes generous use of previously unavailable letters between Nobel and his mistress, bringing Nobel vividly to life.

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