This very interesting and very controversial issue is discussed here, here and here. The discussion was triggered by this post at the YFS blog on the all not-too-nice kinds of people one encounters in science and on losing one’s illusions down the road into the academe (see also here for a related post at the RS blog); for a kind of alternative point of view see here.
Richard Hamming in his famous talk You and Your Research offers superb advice on how to do great science.
Further advice can be found in the other posts on this blog, e.g. here and here. Also, there are two recent followup papers (On the Process of Becoming a Great Scientist and Ten Simple Rules for Doing Your Best Research, According to Hamming) that could be of some interest.