Einstein's longtime secretary (1928-1955) Helen Dukas and Professor Banesh Hoffman who together had written a biography of Einstein here collect some of his correspondance, his very humane replies on a great variety of subjects.
The work is small but it does reveal Einstein's character. His humor and modesty and wisdom are everywhere in evidence. Einstein's writing often has an aphoristic quality, and there are many memorable sayings in the work.
A small sample of them follow:
" As for the search for truth ,I know from my own painful searching , with its many blind alleys, how hard it is to take a reliable step, be it ever so small, towards the understanding of that which is truly significant."
"With fame I become more and more stupid, which of course, is a very common phenomenon. There is far too great a disproportion between what one is, and what others think one is, or at least what they say they think one is.But one has to take it all with good humor"
"Where the world ceases to be the scene of our personal hopes and wishes, where we face it as free beings admiring, asking and observing, there we enter the realm of Art and Science. If what is seen and experienced is portrayed in the language of logic, we are engaged in science. If it is communicated through forms whose connections are not accessible to the conscious mind but recognized intuitively as meaningful ,then we are engaged in art.Common to both is the loving devotion to that which transcends personal concern and volition."
This volume touches upon many sides of Einstein, his humanitarianism, devotion to peace, his Zionism, his sense of the beauty that is to be revealed through the objective understanding of the universe."
The book takes the form of the questions his correspondents asked ( Most often given in paraphrased form by the authors of the book) and Einstein's responses to their questions.
If I had one question to ask him it would be, " How is it that it was given to one human being in one relatively short period of time to totally transform Mankind's understanding of nature? Why do you think that you were the one given this miraculous power?
With its brief 115 pages of social commentary and personal glimpses from his archives (and accompanying 46 pages in the original German) as selected by two of his closest associates-Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, we get a better and at times an amazingly modest look into the everyday mind of Albert Einstein. This is a quick read and one that will keep you nodding and smiling at the wisdom, humor, and social grace contained in its painfully few pages. From science we know his sense of genius, even if and when we don't readily understand the complexity of his theories. But with this book we get some timeless eloquence that holds up well today. A brilliant scientist is able to dissect the secret workings of the universe while the gifted philosopher looks at the fragments of being and tries to make some sense of it all. With Albert Einstein we were fortunate enough to have gotten both.
Albert Einstein, the Human Side: New Glimpses from His Archives is an excellent, slim little pocket volume of Einstein's correspondence to all and sundry. It is a necessary book to keep at hand in any library - for here, we read in Einstein's own words his ideas and his compassion for others.
The work is well organized and carefully selected from an unbelievable archive, and it is no wonder that Einstein's secretary and literary executrix Helen Dukas, with the help of Einstein's colleague Banesh Hoffman, gave us this precious gift of Einstein's personal letters to admirers all over the world.