THE WOMAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH tells the engaging life story of the epidemiologist whose discoveries about radiation risk have revolutionized medical practice and challenged international nuclear safety standards. For more than forty years, Dr. Alice Stewart has warned that tow-dose radiation is far more dangerous than has been acknowledged. Although an outstanding scientist with more than 400 peer-reviewed papers to her name, her controversial work has only recently begun to receive significant attention, because it lies at the center of a political storm.
In the 1950s when doctors would routinely x-ray pregnant women, she began research at Oxford that led to the discovery that fetal x-rays doubted a child's risk of developing cancer. When she was in her seventies, she again astounded the scientific world by showing that the U.S. nuclear weapons industry was far more dangerous than commonly believed, a finding that embroiled her in an international controversy over radiation risk. In recent years, she has become one of a handful of independent scientists whose work is a lodestone to the antinuclear movement. In 1990, the New York Times called her "perhaps the Energy Department's most influential and feared scientific critic."
The Woman Who Knew Too Much traces Dr. Stewart's life and career from her early childhood in Sheffield and medical education at Cambridge to her research positions at Oxford and the University of Birmingham, where she still maintains an office. The book joins a growing number of biographies of pioneering women scientists such as Barbara McClintock, Rosalind Franklin, and Lise Meitner and will find a wide range of appreciative readers, including those interested in the history of science and technology and of the history of women in science and medicine. Activists and policymakers will also find the story of Alice Stewart compelling reading.