Leave it to Milton Meltzer to make Einstein’s Theory of Relativity almost understandable for me. That he is able to distill the life of this complicated scientist in a way that is inviting and perceptive is emblematic of Meltzer’s writing skills. Throughout his long career Meltzer has written biography and non-fiction which couple elegant literary style with well-researched information on dozens of subjects. In this spare volume, the complicated life and accomplishments of Albert Einstein are skillfully compressed into 32 pages with large type. The underlying theme of the book is “as brilliant as Einstein was, he was very human.” It is this humanity which Meltzer draws upon to connect the now mythological Einstein with his life’s work and thoughts. Is this a picture book or not? Although the book is dotted with archival photographs and is picture book length, the subject matter, concepts, and vocabulary make this more appropriate for readers older than the publisher’s targeted age group. Phrases such as “moral decision,” “compressed energy,” and “nuclear fission” will not be easily understood by young children unless read along with an adult. It is so difficult to write a meaningful biography that takes the youngest readers beyond basic chronological details. That being said, this book draws on Einstein’s own words to present a challenging understanding of Einstein the person, the scientist — and especially relevant to us — the Jew. While the bibliography is composed of titles beyond the comprehension level of young readers, the timeline provides a useful context to better understand Einstein’s life and times. Ages 8 – 10.
Albert Einstein: A Biography
Norman H. Finkelstein, the author of eighteen nonfiction books, has won the National Jewish Book Award twice and the Golden Kit Honor Award for nonfiction. He lives in Framingham, Massachusetts.
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