From Publishers Weekly
Levenson covers 18 crucial years, 1914 through 1932, that sealed Albert Einstein's reputation and hurled Berlin, where he then lived, from the kaiser's lap into the Nazis' claws. Levenson, a Peabody- and Emmy-winning filmmaker whose credits include a Nova documentary on Einstein, vividly portrays the scientist at work and provides a lively narrative of the era. Promised the directorship of a new physics institute with few obligations to divert him from research, Einstein returned to his homeland, he himself acknowledged, as a "prize hen" for the Germans hoping to build a cultural capital surpassing London and Paris. While the Great War occupied his fellow Berliners, Einstein largely isolated himself to expand upon special relativity. Levenson points to 1919 as a turning point in the physicist's career: observations of a solar eclipse validated his new theory of general relativity, and he became the most celebrated scientist of the century. In his new public role, Einstein spoke for the Zionist cause, fostered internationalism and promoted peace. That year also marked the beginning of the Weimar Republic, a heady era for the arts and Berlin's night life amid a depression that fueled anti-Semitism. Once eager to declare Einstein the Nobel laureate, German ultranationalists now threatened to pluck the prize hen. Einstein abandoned Berlin in December 1932, just weeks before Hitler became chancellor. One flaw in this otherwise excellent book requires mention. Levenson does not entirely succeed in unifying biography and history; thus he leaves readers to guess what significance Einstein's presence in Berlin had for his science, his personal life and the city.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Einstein as witness to history, from his 1914 arrival in Berlin to his flight from the Nazis in 1932. Levenson crafted Nova's two-hour Einstein biography.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.