His best-known work was a biography of Einstein, Subtle is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein, which was published in 1982 and won the 1983 American Book Award. Pais went on to publish, among other books, Niels Bohr's Times in 1991 and Einstein Lived Here in 1994, and completed his autobiography, A Tale of Two Continents: a physicist's life in a turbulent world in 1997. His most recent book, The Genius of Science: A Portrait Gallery, was published earlier this year.

Pais was born in Amsterdam in 1919, and became a talented mathematician and theoretical physicist. After World War II, during which many of his relatives died in Nazi concentration camps, Pais briefly worked with Niels Bohr in Copenhagen and then with Robert Oppenheimer at the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton in the US. Pais made several important contributions to the foundations of the modern theory of particle physics during his time at Princeton. In 1954 he became a US citizen and moved to Rockefeller University, in New York City.