Black Apollo, by Kenneth Manning, describes the life of Ernest Everett Just, one of the first black scientists in America. Manning recounts Just's impoverished origins in South Carolina, his adaptations to a white educational system, and his professional careers as a zoology professor at Howard University and as an embryologist at Wood's Hole Biological Laboratories. Despite countless difficulties imposed in a world in which a black person was not supposed to practice science, Just became an internationally esteemed biologist. His story is one of courage, determination, and dedication to science. But Manning's goals are more far-reaching than to simply tell a story or describe one man's life. After all, while Just was a brilliant biologist, he was ultimately not pivotal to the development of either science or race relations in the 20th century. The issues brought out in his story, however, are pivotal. A comprehensive appreciation of the conditions that Just faced in his daily work offers a powerful lens by which to examine the development of science and racial boundaries in America. Manning wrote Just's story as a biography. Biography may not look like a promising medium for great historical work. Biographies simply tell a story. Most students receive their introductions to the history of science in the worshipful biographies of past scientific giants. Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein offer excellent examples to young students of how scientists contribute to society. Biographies are popular for children's reading lists because they have simple subjects, can present clear moral statements, and manage to teach a little history at the same time. This simplicity of form, however, does not preclude the biography from being a powerful medium for historical work and social commentary. The biography yields particular rewards for the historian of science. One of the central principles of history of science is to show that science is a product of social forces. This principle implies that historians and sociologists have insights on the practice of science that scientists are less likely to produce. Moreover, if society does influence science, then it behooves historians to explain how such an important process works. The human orientation of the biography makes it an excellent medium in which historians can do this work. Were a researcher to investigate the development of scientific theory solely by reading the accounts written of a laboratory's experiments―by looking only at the “science”―the researcher would likely see a science moved by apparently rational forces toward a discernible goal. But this picture is incomplete and artificial. If that researcher examines science through the people who generated it, a richer mosaic of actors emerges. The science biography has the potential to reveal both the person through the science and the science through the person. From these perspectives, the forces of politics, emotions, and economics, which can direct science as much as rational thought, are more easily brought to light. Black Apollo is a riveting example of what a historian can accomplish with a skillful and directed use of biography.