An engaging biography of 20th century icon Albert Einstein that examines the Nobel Prize winning scientist from many different angles: a lackadaisical student who loved to learn; a brilliant thinker whose ideas brought him fame but not necessarily understanding; a staunch pacifist in a era of war who felt compelled to sign a letter to President Roosevelt regarding the need for the U.S. to build the atomic bomb before the Germans; a secular Jew who became a spokesman for the Zionist cause. Wishinky’s text is generally clear and thorough, blending the personal and professional into one linear whole. He is portrayed throughout as a man whose intellect dominated his life, at times to the detriment of those around him. Numerous quotes illuminate his relationships with a multitude of influences, from family friends and acquaintances to infamous scientists and statesmen, including Chaim Weitzmann, who invited Einstein to accompany him on a tour of the United States in 1921 in order to raise funds for the establishment of a Jewish state. An abundance of visual references, photographs, and supplemental sidebars compliment the narrative, providing an important historical context for the events in his life as well as his thinking. While Einstein’s famous theories are explained in general terms, the explanations are difficult to understand, potentially leaving young readers as mystified as many of those who came to hear his lectures (for a more enlightening alternative, see Einstein: Visionary Scientist by John B. Severance). Still, this is a useful work, suitable for both reports and general interest.
Teri Markson has been a children’s librarian for over 18 years. She is currently the acting senior librarian at the Valley Plaza Branch Library in North Hollywood, CA.