From Publishers Weekly
Albert Einstein was a genius and, apparently, a race man. Drawing upon extensive research, authors Jerome and Taylor-a journalist and a librarian, respectively-show the Nobel Prize-winning physicist to have been fairly active in the civil rights movements of the 1940s. It's clear the authors believe that this fact constitutes some sort of hidden truth, and they're reasonably correct: numerous historians left out the details of Einstein's controversial alliances with W.E.B. Dubois, the NAACP, the Civil Rights Congress and the Southern Conference Educational Fund. The authors saturate the first half of the book with comments from the black inhabitants of Princeton's Witherspoon Street. Their quotes are anecdotal at best and show little more than that Einstein was a friendly man who wasn't afraid of black people. A few of the quotes are telling in ways the authors may not intend: "My grandmother worked as a domestic for Einstein...When Professor Einstein had visitors, they sat and ate in the dining room; she listened from the kitchen." Others such as "me and my sister Lili used to watch Einstein walking up Witherspoon Street" record merely that black people witnessed Einstein's presence in their neighborhood. Einstein's provocative statements on American bigotry-"Everyone who is not used from childhood to this injustice suffers from the mere observation"-are reserved for the book's second half, which presents his letters and speeches. A useful compilation for students of Einstein's politics, this book lacks the kind of strong narrative thread that might have brought it a wider audience. 8 pages of b&w photos.
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"As any reader of Faulkner knows, Princeton University before the Second World War was a southern university, and the town of Princeton adopted corresponding racial attitudes. In 1933 into this community came Albert Einstein, fresh from cosmopolitan Weimar Berlin and with the example of how Nazi anti-Semitism was helping to destroy all that was best in German culture. This book tells the story of how he reacted to the racism he saw around him, and to the fight-back against it by Princeton's long-established black community. It is a fascinating story and, unfortunately for our country, it is not just history but a contribution to contemporary struggles against American racism, at home and abroad.
(John Stachel director of the Center for Einstein Studies, Boston University
"For many people around the world, Einstein's name is a household word, and yet Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor's important new book reveals in startling ways how little we know about his profound insights into the realities of race and racism. Who knew? Fortunately for all of us, Einstein's ideas and insights on this issue are as timely and instructive as his most advanced scientific contributions. We owe Fred and Rodger a huge debt of gratitude.
(Danny Glover 2099-01-01)
"In Einstein on Race and Racism, the authors remind us that it is significant to achieve consciousness through education. Through their historical analysis, they unveil the interconnection that existed between Paul Robeson and Einstein, so as to ensure that contemporary scholars understand humanizing pedagogy and civic responsibilities. This is insightful scholarship that explores race and racism, drawing on the analytical insights of innovative giants of divergent social and professional recognition.
(Prosper Godonoo Director, Paul Robeson Cultural Center, Rutgers University
"Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor paint a compelling portrait of an Einstein who has been almost completely absent from the public record: the man who co-chaired a committee that pushed for federal anti-lynching legislation, who joined the campaign to save the 'Scottsboro boys,' who helped sponsor the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund, who became a close friend and supporter of Paul Robeson, who frequently strolled through Princeton's African-American neighborhoods-in short, a man not afraid to use his fame to battle the racism that plagued America (and Princeton, both town and university) during his years in the U.S. This is a side-an important side-of the great physicist and pacifist that anyone interested in the man, and his times, will find eye-opening.
(Sharon Begley science writer and coauthor of The Mind and the Brain
"This book continues the process of peeling back the politics of Albert Einstein to reveal a vital (and up to now invisible) layer of anti-racism activities. It demonstrates, through Einstein's example, how not to 'stand idly by' in the face of America's most pernicious problem-racism.
(Dorothy M. Zellner civil rights activist, member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
"While Albert Einstein is most famous for his theory of relativity, he held fervently to some moral absolutes, few more precious than his heroic and passionate anti-racist writing and activism. Einstein on Race and Racism brilliantly recovers the engaging, principled, and courageous views of one of history's most famous scientists, whose anti-racist writings have been ignored, overlooked, even hidden from the world by his biographers and custodians. Thanks to Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor, we have unimpeachable evidence that the 'Man of the Century' wrestled fearlessly and insightfully with what his friend W.E.B. Du Bois termed the century's greatest problem: the color line. This is one of the year's most important books."
(Michael Eric Dyson author of The Michael Eric Dyson Reader