Evariste Galois' short life was lived against the turbulent background of the restoration of the Bourbons to the throne of France, the 1830 revolution in Paris and the accession of Louis-Phillipe. This new and scrupulously researched biography of the founder of modern algebra sheds much light on a life led with great intensity and a death met tragically under dark circumstances. Sorting speculation from documented fact, it offers the fullest and most exacting account ever written of Galois' life and work. It took more than seventy years to fully understand the French mathematician's first mémoire (published in 1846) which formulated the famous "Galois theory" concerning the solvability of algebraic equations by radicals, from which group theory would follow. Obscurities in his other writings - mémoires and numerous fragments of extant papers - persist and his ideas challenge mathematicians to this day. Thus scholars will welcome those chapters devoted specifically to explicating all aspects of Galois' work. A comprehensive bibliography enumerates studies by and also those about the mathematician.