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The Einstein File: J. Edgar Hoover's Secret War Against the World's Most Famous Scientist Paperback – June 17, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

From 1933 until 1955, the Federal Bureau of Investigation compiled a 2,000-page file on Albert Einstein, hoping to "destroy" his immense stature by linking him to Soviet espionage activities. At one point, not long before the scientist's death, a serious attempt was made to have him deported. This alarming campaign--responsible in large part for Einstein's exclusion from the Manhattan Project--is the subject of Fred Jerome's The Einstein File. Einstein's disloyalty, in the FBI's view, was clearly evidenced by his adamant political stances. He was a socialist, a pacifist (though he advocated war with Germany), and an outspoken foe of McCarthyism, nuclear war, and racism. Jerome's skillful narrative weaves the file's hateful (and often ludicrously inaccurate) entries with American political history, creating an invaluable context for both Einstein's views and the FBI's actions. Further, Jerome points to the more recent "sanitizing" of Einstein, from angry activist to "genial, absent-minded professor." This is a fascinating, compelling tale, one that reads like the strangest of fictions. --H. O'Billovich --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Not only did J. Edgar Hoover keep a well-guarded (and sometimes comically erroneous) secret file on Albert Einstein, reveals Jerome, a journalist and consultant to Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Communications, he actively sought to have the physicist deported. Though Einstein was far too popular to be brought down by Hoover's normal smear tactics (even when covertly laundered through congressional committees), his file was filled with 1,800 pages of raw materials. But the lists of organizations he supported (antifascist, pacifist and antiracist) and "unsavory" people he knew, such as Paul Robeson, lacked bite, since Einstein (unlike his biographers) happily publicized these associations. Accusations of subversive activity ranged from the surreal (mind control and death rays) to carelessly recycled Nazi propaganda. Hoover's only hope lay in exposing Einstein as a Soviet spy, a task he fruitlessly pursued from 1950 to 1955 (when Einstein died). Einstein revealed as anything but politically na‹ve fought back against this chilling rerun of his experience in Germany 20 years earlier by calling for civil disobedience in resisting McCarthy and the House un-American Activities Committee, the most radical statement by any major figure at the time. Jerome suggests that popular history has been twisted by this encounter. If Hoover utterly failed to limit Einstein's political influence in his lifetime, Jerome argues, he helped depoliticize Einstein's image, reducing his impact on future generations, a process this book should help reverse. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (June 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312316097
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312316099
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,052,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
He was a good and wise man.
G. Joy Robins
Several of which stuck out in my mind among the many interesting details that the author shares with the reader.
Herbert L Calhoun
Albert Einstein was clearly a great man as a scientist and as a humanitarian.
Whetstone Guy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on November 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Einstein File by Fred Jerome, quickly dispels the poplar image
of Albert Einstein as an absentminded, head-in-the-clouds-genius.
Though Einstein is arguably the most widely covered, continuing
science story in history and is most noted for his scientific
theories that transformed our view of the universe. This book
chronicles the life of an Einstein that the masses knew nothing
about. An Einstein described as a troublemaker, an agitator, a
fervent pacifist, a socialist, and an open critic of racism.
Einstein arrived in the United States in 1933, the year of
the Nazi's ascent to power in Germany, and became the focus of
J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. And by any means necessary the FBI amassed
a 'file cabinet' of information on him. Fred Jerome stumbled on
documents that addressed Einstein as a Spy and a Kidnap Plotter.
And a dossier where Jerome discovered the political dimension of
Albert Einstein's life and his intense commitment to social justice.
Jerome says when he realized how much had not been told to us about
the life of the 'Man of the Century', he felt as though he had been
robbed. This is not another biography of Einstein, some two hundred
have already been written. It is a window opened by the FBI on the
nature of Einstein's politics, the depth of his public involvement,
and the generosity of his endorsements of organizations he supported.
And it is this activism that made Hoover's Bureau consider Einstein
dangerous. This book reveals information that makes one think the
history we know is sanitized, and what we don't know is at times
appalling.
Read more ›
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By John C. Landon on July 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Einstein was a troublemaker, the author informs us at the beginning of this book detailing, armed with the 1800 pages of files released by the FOIA, with Hoover's Albert-paranoia in action, aimed at the great scientist, especially in the years of the Red Scare, McCarthyism, and the Cold War. The public image of the greatest scientist of the twentieth century has been carefully manicured, but behind the teddy bear was a determined activist on many fronts, who fell afoul of not only the Nazis, but of the FBI. Einstein's valiant stands on social justice, racism, antisemitism, war, peace, and the Bomb barely enter public consciousness through the layers of the myth. The record of Hoover's manipulations and skullduggeries is almost pathetic in its pickiun character, next also to its bungling and misinformation. It is, for example, discouraging to watch how Einstein is deprived of security clearance, lest a man with such a reputation and global popularity be, we suspect the motive, able to influence or speak out from the inside on the use of the first atom bomb. The portrait left of the reactionary and racist Hoover at the head of a critical institution pursuing this biased and incomprehending agenda is nothing less than appalling. The portrait of Einstein's deep social concerns (read a triffle 'leftist') in action is the real man, please.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By G. Joy Robins on February 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a must read book for many reasons. We have allowed J. Edgar Hoover and Joseph McCarthy's abuses of power to slip quietly into fuzzy memory. We have failed to learn from history and are now condemned to repeat it.

Einstein emerges in this book as far more than a smart mathematician. He was a good and wise man. That so much of our government's power was engaged in an effort to discredit him is frightening.

Einstein experienced the Nazi's rise to power first hand. He could see the similarities between their anti-Semitism and our own racism. He had seen the Nazis attack the Communists and quash dissent. Einstein was a long time Pacifist, but he supported the war against the Nazis, even to the point of suggesting to FDR that we develop the Atomic Bomb before Hitler could.

Einstein was never a Communist. He valued his freedom of thought and expression too much. He saw how dangerous narrow nationalism could be and that it could threaten democracy. Einstein and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt were strong supporters of the United Nations and Human Rights. This earned both extensive FBI files, along with Martin Luther King Jr., whose Civil Rights efforts were also seen as a threat by Hoover.

After World War II, Nazis were eagerly embraced as anti-Communists and recruited into the growing "intelligence community". Einstein, an avowed Socialist, was feared to be, if not actually "Red" at least "Pink", and not to be trusted. If he had not been so well known and loved, he would surely have been stripped of his citizenship and deported. Hoover certainly tried. Fortunately for Einstein, there was no real evidence at all against him, just allegations from completely unreliable sources, innuendo and irrational fear.

Today, the flames of irrational fear are again being fanned in our country. Fear is again being used to justify injustice and erode our civil liberties. Everyone should read this book, and take it as a warning.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard E. Noble VINE VOICE on October 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
Needless to say, I was not surprised. This book is of course another in a long line of books exposing Hover, the FBI and our not so pure system.
Albert Einstein was clearly a good man and it is becoming rather apparent that J. Edgar Hoover was not.
When people complain about how their tax dollars are spent, I don't understand why organization like the FBI and the CIA are so defended by so many. Are these people just not informed?
I know that even history is not always accurate or in some cases even rather political and deceptive but so many people can't be lying about Hoover and these secretive organizations of ours.
We are beginning to make the Communists look reasonable. I can hardly believe all this and I just don't see how so many others can be in this state of denial. I don't get it.

Richard Edward Noble - The Hobo Philosopher - Author of:

Mein Kampf - An Analysis of Book One
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