Letting the rest of the world go by
I was reluctant to listen to this book because I don't like biographies. I'm glad I broke my rule. The author explains the physics of Einstein (from quantum theory to general relativity) better than almost any other popular physics book. It's really the definitive biography of Einstein because the author had access to letters which none of the other biographers have had till now. The book can be read by those who love a good biography of an interesting person and for those who what to learn about the physics. After having read this book, I can fully understand why Steve Jobs picked the author to write his biography.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
If you are looking for a great treatment on the life and character of Albert Einstein look no further. I'm not so convinced, however, that one gleans much on the nature of Relativity from the book. The book considers a personal and professional chronology of his life in way that is interesting and stimulating. The narration is quite outstanding. Making a book like this an easy listen I do not think is an easy thing. The only book I might equate with this ease of listen and profundity of such a subject would be Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku narrated by Marc Vietor.
Einstein is a fascinating man scientifically, politically, and personally. Isaacson does a good job of telling the story in a way that balances these three aspects of the famous man. Hermann's narration is masterful.
Life long compulsive reader & lover of recorded books
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although I listened to it and did not read it, I am quite sure that the excellent narration added to the great experience that this book turned out to be.
Without a doubt, the subject of the biography, who was quite a special being although quite human and imperfect. We get to make the acquientance of some of the other luminaries of the world of science and politics through the book. We also meet the women in his life whom he did not always treat as well as he could have. I was very surprised to learn that regardless of his eccentricities, Einstein was quite a magnet to the opposite sex.
There are many memorable scenes in Einstein's remarkable life. This was a book of "great thoughts" rather than scenes. Einstein's way of seeing the world and how it was central to his contributions to humanity was what interested me most going into this book and the biographer did an excellent job in describing something so elusive.
Be prepared for passages on relativity and quantum physics that are perhaps a bit more detailed than some would prefer. One must say that the author did a superlative job at explaining both, at least at a level that would help the reader appreciate the complexity of both principles and how they remain revolutionary today.
Einstein was impudent. Did not respect convention. He didn't wear socks. He considered himself a human more than he was a German, a Swiss, a Jew or an American. These qualities I deeply respect about him. He was a pacifist until confronted with Hitler's extremism, who beat out Einstein as the greatest living person according to incoming Princeton freshmen in 1938 and 1939 by the way.
The way he interacted with the women in his life is not something I want to emulate. He fell in love with one of the few women scientists early on, had a few kids with her, but their relationship deteriorated. His next relationship wasn't much different. He had a lot of acquaintances with other women. Sadly I think his relationships are kind of a prototype of what seems common to many of the men and women I have interacted with in our day.
He played violin. Despite trying, he didn't get a job as a professor until 9 years after his graduation. He started out without favor from the scientific community, then became their celebrity, and then again moved out of their favor. I like that about him as well. He was his own person. He was a man of thought experiments. A theoretical Physicist. He was offered the job of being the president of Israel.
I learned a bit about science from the book as well. At least, some terms perhaps. If I had my education to live over again I might be interested in being on the cutting edge of human progress... The sentiment that Einstein had about his science reminded me of Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" emphasis on the romantic and the practical coming to meet in one person. Einstein did that. He was a romantic, feelings driven person who happened to understand the practical, technical in such a way that he could not only define it, but interact with it on a feelings level. A curiosity. He said he was not particularly talented he only possessed an insatiable curiosity.
After being caught in a storm in his sailboat he said "one feels the insignificance of the individual, and it makes one happy."
He was convinced God would not play dice as it seemed (and still seems) in quantum physics. He believed in Baruch Spinoza's conception of God...mostly as revealed in the natural world, not personal.
"Einstein’s brilliance sprang from being a rebel and nonconformist who recoiled at any attempt to restrain his free expression."
This book has got me interested again in World War 2 affairs. It is so astonishing to me that Hitler was so popular. In addition to the Princeton Freshmen, Time Magazine called him the person of the year in 1938. The story that the victors tell history is very true here. I realized that I have no idea why the world fought that war. It is my impression that people have to be really mad and really frustrated to go to war. And I think the perception of Hitler I was given was one that was told by the victors. The victors who had previously thought he was one of the best people ever. There is something missing in my understanding.
This is the third book by Walter Isaacson that I have listened to. Like the the other two, it was highly informative, well-written, and insightful. The author does a great job of explaining complex scientific concepts without talking down to the reader. The narration was excellent.
It is fascinating to learn how this person has revolutionized the world of physics and how his discoveries affect our lives. Excellent read.
The performance by Edward Herrmann is so perfect.
He is such an important person, and his story is so inspiring.
I have no interest in physics or higher math. This is story of a great scientist and humanitarian.
The letters and piecing his life together is fascinating!
You can tell who I am by my reading, or can you?
Isaacson is a master of biographies. I had read the Steve Jobs and me to read the motivei of Einstein and I was not disappointed. The book follows the natural order of Einstein's life from his childhood, the relationship with his father until his departure to the United States and his last years. The book uses a "relatively" simple language that can explain some topics to the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Physics. Impressed me the technique of thought experiments that Einstein used in research, its limitations with Mathematics (away from the myths of being a bad student of Mathematics) and its humanist and pacifist stance as consistent with his thoughts on the importance of freedom for scientific development. The book shows the limitations and uncertainties of Einstein the man and the father. I recommend it to all who enjoy a good biography and who are interested in science and physics.
A transplanted Englishman, I spend my time on biography, history and military books. I appreciate good English and good narration.
I read many biographies and this book brings out Einstein's character and personality as well as any book managed with its title subject. There is that first moment in any book where I wait to see who is to read it. Marvelous, Edward Herrmann, deep rich voice, perfect pace, appropriate emphasis and clear delivery free of accent. Water Isaacson, biographer of Steve Jobs (which I did not know when I ordered this book) has a grasp of Einstein's life details combined with an ability to put across tough scientific concepts and place them in context. Oh yes, it gets complicated...how could it not? But he never lost my interest even when it was beyond my comprehension. Isaacson kept such necessary writings to a suitable length.
Einstein came across as fallible, human, kind, tough, estranged, close, humorous, thoughtful, pacifist ,but then a considered opponent of Germany and justified war against Hitler. The juxtaposition of stories of his reclusiveness at times, merged with his open armed acceptance of some who stumbled across him. Einstein's humility; his respect for others in his profession; his ability to apply his intelligence outside of quantum physics. All come across, either in cameo writings of individual happenings or general description.
His eccentricity, sailing alone on the lake for hours on end, presumably thinking about his mathematical proofs or endless equations. How sad it was that Hitler's bully boys ransacked his home outside Potsdam and destroyed his yacht of solace.
At the end of it all, what a thoroughly fine, kind, charming gentleman.