Albert Ein­stein: A Biography

Mil­ton Meltzer

  • Review
By – January 30, 2012

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.

Nor­man H. (1941 – 2024) taught Jew­ish his­to­ry at Hebrew Col­lege for more than thir­ty-five years and is the author of twen­ty-one non­fic­tion his­to­ries and biogra­phies. Two of his books, Heed­ing the Call and Forged in Free­dom, won Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards.

Discussion Questions