Anyone who studies the history of science in the first half of the twentieth century will find a large part was played by German Jewish scientists, many of whom fled to other countries with the coming of the Nazi party. 'Hitler's Gift' takes the point of view that this was Germany's loss and other countries gain, and tells the stories of many of the scientists involved. It shows that although the decision to leave may have been obvious with hindsight, at the time it was a difficult one to make. It also shows how being transferred to a different environment gave many of the scientists a fresh start, resulting in many important discoveries. This book will be of interest to any reader who wants a better understanding of the decisions which were made by individuals and governments during this confusing time.
My criticism of the book is that it tries to pack too much in. As well as the stories of those scientists who left Germany, there are stories of some who stayed, such as Heisenberg. This makes the point that all German scientists were faced with difficult choices. There is also a chapter on the development of the atomic bomb in Britain and the USA - again difficult choices, but it gets away from the main thread of the book. As a result some of the biographies of scientists who left, which I feel should be the main content of the book, are frustratingly short. It would also have helped to have more extensive notes and further reading about each scientist.