Based on the newly released personal letters of Albert Einstein, Walter Isaacson explores how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk, a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn't get a teaching job or a doctorate, became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe. His success came from questioning conventional wisdom and marveling at mysteries that struck others as mundane. This led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals.
These traits are just as vital for this new century of globalization, in which our success will depend on our creativity, as they were for the beginning of the last century, when Einstein helped usher in the modern age.
It's all relative: listen to more about Albert Einstein.
©2007 Walter Isaacson. All rights reserved; (P)2007 Simon and Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.
"[A] lucid account." (Publishers Weekly)
"Isaacson has admirably succeeded in weaving together the complex threads of Einstein's personal and scientific life to paint a superb portrait." (Arthur I. Miller, author of Einstein, Picasso)
"Isaacson has written a crisp, engaging, and refreshing biography, one that beautifully masters the historical literature and offers many new insights into Einstein's work and life." (Diana Kormos Buchwald, General Editor of the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein)
I thoroughly enjoy reading biographies about historically famous individuals. Isaacson does an excellent job of chronologically leading you through Einstein's life and the events that shaped him as a human being and influenced his scientific theories. I was fascinated to learn about his views on politics and religion since he is such an oft-quoted scientist. I was astounded at how much his work and views have been conveniently manipulated by present-day scientists.
There were several statements that Einstein made in his life that profoundly moved me. One expects a scientist to be less eloquent in his or her expression, but Einstein said many things that were articulate and insightful. I wasn't able to transcribe them all as I was often listening without pen and paper, but here are a few I found insightful:
"Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."
"The monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind."
"The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think" (I think this should be the motto of every educational institution!!!)
In an address to CalTech, he spoke about how science had not yet been harnessed to do more good than harm:
"During war, it gave people the means to poison and mutilate one another and in peace time it has made people hurried and uncertain."
He is clear and easy to understand.
I was touched by the fact that even though Einstein was not a religious man himself, he was not deprecating to those who believed in the existence of God. The present scientific community is so denigrating to people of faith, yet Einstein did not harbor such sentiments at all.
Isaacson is an excellent biographer. He presents the lives of individuals so thoroughly and clearly while giving some information on the contemporary history of the person he is writing about. I selected this book after listening to the biography he wrote on Steve Jobs. I hope to listen to or read more of this work in the future.
I was an A-B student in high school and college with one glaring exception: Physics. I got a C- (the lowest grade I ever got) in that, even with the coaching of friends with a lot better comprehension of the material. So why did I think I could comprehend this book? I really don't know. I was interested in the life of Einstein and was prepared to wade through any discussions of his theories, but this was a little more than I expected. I recently enjoyed, I INVENTED THE MODERN AGE, a book about Henry Ford's contributions, even though there was a lot of technical things in it that were over my head, and I was hoping for the same type of experience here; maybe if it was anything other than physics, I might have had a chance, Because I am listening instead of reading, I can't even skip through the tough parts because I don't want to miss anything about his life or the history of the times. Anyway, I'm half-way through and determined to forge onward in my quest to learn more about the man and his impact on history, but it's a struggle. The book is well written and I love the narrator; I plan to listen to more of the books he has done. So, if you're into that level of scientific inquiry, you will probably be ready with a 5-star review.
This was a fascinating look at Einstein's life and times. Perhaps a bit technical when it came to describing his theories, but overall well worth reading.
Intriguing and insightful. Contains the good and the bad; a complete picture, allowing me to revere him in spite of his weaknesses. A fascinating story of a fascinating man. Well written and narrated.
Very well researched, organizing all the information gleaned from letters seamlessly. One of Isaacson's best. Very well dramatized. The only small flaw is trying to explain some of the theories--unnecessary. Otherwise, it was great to see Einstein's early struggles with math/academics, and his personal and romantic life. Well done.
This book is more of a study and/or analysis (sometimes a play-by-play) of his work than his personal life. It does start out OK but soon gets completely bogged down in scientific rhetoric. If you are not interested in paragraph after paragraph of abstruse, esoteric details of his experiments and discoveries, this is NOT the book for you.
If you are in the scientific field and would enjoy the breakdown of each of AEs experiments down to the molecule, I predict this book will fascinate you.
His humanitarian efforts and objection of conformity.
Edward makes all the difference.
A must read if one wants to understand the history of human kind.
This is a wonderfully written and well told biography of one of history's greatest scientists and a fascinating man. But if I were doing it again, I'd read instead of listen, because I'd skip the physics and concentrate on the biography. Hard to skip half chapters in an audiobook.
A great story, well written, Isaacson describes Einstein's human side along with his scientific theories. Definitely worth the credit and the time to listen. Outstanding narration as well.
What I enjoyed most about this book was Einstein was human. He had problems in his life, he had faults, any did not know everything. I like to tell people that he was a normal person just like you and me. However when I tell people that they look at me funny so you have to read the book in order to possibly come away with that concept. The book might have a few technical areas that deal with his theories, this may tend to bog some readers down just a bit, but I would urge that you would stay with it for the true life human realizations that comprise 90% of the book are well worth reading. I particularly liked the story when he was living in the Trenton New Jersey he called Princeton University to talk to the Dean, he was calling from a pay phone to ask the Dean what his address was because he was lost, he had gone for a walk and this was typical that he would not remember simple items in his life, like where his house was.
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