Albert Ein­stein

Frie­da Wishinsky
  • Review
By – October 24, 2011
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.

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