The Bottom Line
- Biography of history's most intriguing scientist
- Contains a wide range of details, from personal to professional to political
- Scientific descriptions are adequately detailed
- Told by a superb biographer
- Occasionally the timeline becomes disjointed.
- Allusions are made to Einstein's personal indiscretions, with few details provided
- Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 704 pages
- Easily readable, even when dealing with complex scientific concepts.
- Explores Einstein's connections (or lack thereof) with Nazis, fascism, socialism, zionism, and other political movements.
- Paints a realistic portrait of Albert Einstein.
Guide Review - Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
As a young boy, Einstein began to speak late and had trouble controlling his temper. He left for school in Zurich as a teenager with the intention of renouncing his German citizenship, feeling disconnected from his nation of origin.
This rebellious spirit, the willingness to step outside of the norm and pave his own path, would also identify his physics. His bold 1905 work in proving atomic theory, describing the photon theory of light, and ultimately creating the theory of relativity, are all marked by this same willingness to break the status quo.
Isaacson also explores the close friendships that Einstein developed, mostly among physics and mathematical colleagues, along with his unconventional personal life. The book refers to indiscretions, but there are few details to support these comments, but what is there is strange enough, as he fails in one marriage and goes on to marry his own cousin!
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Einstein's life is the popular fame that he achieved worldwide among a public that could barely comprehend his work. Many would seek to link him to various political or social organizations, but he would rarely allow such connections to grow too strong.
The overarching sense that one gets from Isaacson's look at Einstein is that he was a strongly independent man. His actions were guided by the sense that there must be order in the universe, and he forever sought that order.