Journalist, writer, and editor. Worked as arts editor of the New Statesman and deputy art editor at the London Evening Standard.
(Editor) Science and Sensibility: Gender and Scientific Enquiry, 1780-1945, B. Blackwell (Cambridge, MA), 1991.
(Editor) A Question of Identity: Women, Science, and Literature, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1993.
Living at the End of the World, Picador (London, England), 1998.
Rocket Dreams: How the Space Age Shaped Our Vision of a World Beyond, Free Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Last Days in Babylon: The History of a Family, the Story of a Nation, Free Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Marina Benjamin is a journalist and author who has written or edited several books about women and science, space exploration, and the large Jewish community that once existed in Iraq. As editor of Science and Sensibility: Gender and Scientific Enquiry, 1780-1945, Benjamin and the book's other contributors explore "the intersection of gender analyses within science and feminism," according to Karen Trenfield writing in Hecate. Trenfield went on to note that Benjamin and the historians who contributed to the book "introduce gender analysis to the history of science specifically as a means of affording a better understanding of science as a cultural heritage, with particular emphasis on what biology has meant to women."
Benjamin discusses millennial thinking and predictions of the apocalypse in Living at the End of the World. From a discussion of Mormonism to cryonics (the preservation of bodies for possible future resuscitation), the author explores humanity's obsession with predicting their own demise. Writing in the New Statesman, Bryan Appleyard commented that "this is an attractively ambitious book." In the same article, he later wrote, "It deals with the idea of the end of the world as an essential element in human history and consciousness."
In her book Rocket Dreams: How the Space Age Shaped Our Vision of a World Beyond, the author presents her theory on the ultimate disappointments associated with the U.S. space program. She delves into why manned missions to the moon and elsewhere seemed to lose support and eventually were replaced with what Benjamin sees as rather routine missions. She discusses the factors that she believes to be responsible for the lackluster space program, pointing to the astronauts themselves as one of the primary causes. She also relates some agency efforts that excite her, such as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence program. "This is also an elegantly written memoir, as the author tells about her youthful fascination with the space program," wrote a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. Gilbert Taylor, writing in Booklist, called Rocket Dreams "a perceptive lamentation." A contributor to Astronomy called it "enchanting." Jeffrey Beall, writing in the Library Journal, noted that the author "clearly and articulately supports her intriguing thesis."
For her book Last Days in Babylon: The History of a Family, the Story of a Nation, Benjamin visited Baghdad, Iraq, in 2004 to explore her family's roots. While in Iraq, she searched for any historical accounts and remains of the Jewish community that once thrived there before persecution of the Jews began. The story the author relates primarily focuses on Benjamin's grandmother, Regina, who was born in Iraq in 1905 and didn't leave with her three children until 1950, eight years after her husband's death. In the process of telling her grandmother's story and parts of her own, Benjamin also recounts the history of Iraq and its past Jewish population, which has been reduced to a mere dozen or so people. A Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to Last Days in Babylon as "a compelling story of a powerful woman, a persecuted people, a tortured time and a granddaughter's deep respect for her family." A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented that the author "honors her family by vivifying a once-thriving community that has dispersed worldwide." Iris Rosendahl, writing in the New Jersey Jewish Standard, noted: "This book offers readers enormous insight into the history of the Jews of the Middle East and the personal history of this family. It's especially appealing to readers like me, with families that lived in Baghdad and Teheran and have shared similar recollections."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Astronomy, September, 2003, review of Rocket Dreams: How the Space Age Shaped Our Vision of a World Beyond, p. 118.
Booklist, February 15, 2003, Gilbert Taylor, review of Rocket Dreams, p. 1024.
Hecate, May 1995, Karen Trenfield, review of Science and Sensibility: Gender and Scientific Enquiry, 1780-1945, p. 149.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2003, review of Rocket Dreams, p. 120; August 1, 2006, review of Last Days in Babylon: The History of a Family, the Story of a Nation, p. 761.
Library Journal, April 1, 2003, Jeffrey Beall, review of Rocket Dreams, p. 124.
New Jersey Jewish Standard, December 27, 2006, Iris Rosendahl, review of Last Days in Babylon.
New Scientist, January 18, 2003, review of Rocket Dreams, p. 47.
New Statesman, April 24, 1998, Bryan Appleyard, review of Living at the End of the World, p. 49.
Publishers Weekly, February 10, 2003, review of Rocket Dreams, p. 171; July 31, 2006, review of Last Days in Babylon, p. 69.
Space Review,http://www.thespacereview.com/ (July 7, 2003), review of Rocket Dreams.