Genius: A Pho­to­bi­og­ra­phy of Albert Einstein

Mar­fé Fer­gu­son Delano
  • Review
By – August 3, 2012

One hun­dred years ago, in 1905, an unknown 26-year-old tech­ni­cal expert in the Swiss Patent Office pub­lished four ground­break­ing arti­cles in a lead­ing physics jour­nal. One of these arti­cles con­tained what has become the world’s most famous equa­tion, E=mc2, also known as the the­o­ry of rel­a­tiv­i­ty. This the­o­ry, along with the oth­ers he pub­lished that year, pro­pelled Albert Ein­stein into the spot­light and rev­o­lu­tion­ized sci­ence. In a mar­ket sat­u­rat­ed with biogra­phies of this famous sci­en­tist, where should read­ers begin? Delano’s biog­ra­phy stands out as a stel­lar choice. The pop­u­lar trend in today’s juve­nile non­fic­tion is to repli­cate for young read­ers the expe­ri­ence of surf­ing the Inter­net or play­ing a video game; many books are filled with side­bars, links to web pages, and car­toon char­ac­ters which pop up on the page to point out use­ful infor­ma­tion. Delano’s book is a refresh­ing change. Using a straight­for­ward style and plen­ty of attrac­tive pho­tos, along with easy-to-under­stand dia­grams of dif­fi­cult sci­en­tif­ic con­cepts, Genius pro­vides a won­der­ful­ly com­plete biog­ra­phy of Ein­stein. Black-and-white and sepia-toned pho­tos are smooth­ly dis­played against back­grounds show­ing let­ters and texts writ­ten in Einstein’s own hand, as well as oth­er impor­tant man­u­scripts such as his U.S. nat­u­ral­iza­tion cer­tifi­cate. The text itself takes the read­er swift­ly through Einstein’s life, from birth to death, with enough details to give a well-round­ed por­trait of the man Time mag­a­zine named Per­son of the Century.” 

Ein­stein was a sci­en­tist first and fore­most, but he was also a Jew. Delano does a fine job explain­ing how his reli­gion and ances­try helped shape Ein­stein as more than a genius. He spoke out against Hitler and, despite his anti­war stance, advo­cat­ed fight­ing the Nazis. From his home in Prince­ton, New Jer­sey, Ein­stein worked to help set­tle Jews and oth­er refugees who had left Europe to escape per­se­cu­tion. Ein­stein was also a Zion­ist; after the death of Chaim Weiz­mann in 1952, Ein­stein was offered the pres­i­den­cy of Israel, which he reluc­tant­ly turned down. Delano’s excel­lent biog­ra­phy is round­ed out by a one page chronol­o­gy, as well as a list of resources con­sist­ing of books, recent news­pa­per arti­cles, a video, and web sites (with links that are cur­rent as of this writ­ing). A detailed index lists every­thing from Atom­ic bombs to Zion­ism. This gem from the Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Soci­ety should be on the shelves of every pub­lic, school, and syn­a­gogue library. For ages 10 – 12.

Wendy Was­man is the librar­i­an & archivist at the Cleve­land Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry in Cleve­land, Ohio.

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