44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
RADIANT BIOGRAPHY THAT HUMANIZES A GREAT MIND, WARTS AND ALL,
This review is from: Einstein: His Life and Universe (Hardcover)If you, like me, think that the last thing you need is yet another treatise on a dead genius scientist with disheveled gray hair, while his Wikipedia entry just keeps swooning, well think again! This is a delightful romp through the many facets of his life, in the accessible vein of Richard Feynman. Isaacson doesn't blindly trump his subject's greatness, which would have been a convenient way to handle the daunting task of sketching someone of Einstein's color and magnitude.
For the first time since Einstein's private archives were opened, we can fully assess the link between his private life and his scientific endeavors. Not surprisingly, they are connected and reflect similar convictions. Einstein was well and truly a maverick, and displayed the same disregard for everyday conventions that his theories bear upon conventional notions of time, space, and the order of the universe. His political letters reveal his almost unapologetic belief that no one should have to give up personal freedoms to support the state.
One big question that neophytes such as myself would doubtless ask themselves before picking up anything on Einstein: "Will I learn anything about the theory of relativity?" The answer to that question is a very cheerful and resounding yes. I found the author's treatment of this aspect clear and comfortable, and while more scientifically inclined readers may lament the brevity of this discourse, I found it in favor of accessibility.
Einstein lived through both the world wars, and as an important thinker of his time, he was inevitably embroiled in the political race to apply his equations to the creation of the atom bomb. I suppose the more sensitive readers will find these bits of the book contentious, as the impassioned commentary on this site will already demonstrate, but such are the vagaries of fame and influence.
I found this a very balanced, affectionate portrait with an immensely charming man at its core. His letters even reveal a sense of humor! They bring to life the much-unknown man behind the much-lauded scientist, a man who was above all else an imaginative free thinker with an incredibly broad range of interests. For a lay reader who is not interested in splitting hairs over Einstein's sinister predilections or anything quite that theatrical, I wholeheartedly recommend this fantastic read. It's a bestseller for a very good reason.