``Why is it that nobody understands me and everybody likes me?'' Albert Einstein reportedly asked the New York Times in 1944. In this new collection of 11 essays on Einstein's life, physicist Pais responds, ``It is neither true that no one understands Einstein nor that everyone likes him.'' Pais speaks from a position of authority: He was a friend of Einstein's and wrote the highly acclaimed 1982 Einstein biography Subtle Is the Lord.... Whereas that volume focused on Einstein's scientific achievements and contained a plethora of equations incomprehensible to the layperson, this companion volume primarily illuminates Einstein's relationship with people both inside and outside the scientific community. For example, the reader catches several of Einstein's high-powered conversations with the great Danish physicist Niels Bohr about the implications of quantum mechanics, and a fleeting yet fascinating debate concerning the nature of truth with Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. In the concluding essays Pais generally allows Einstein to recount in his own words (through excerpts from his writings, speeches, and interviews) his views on religion, philosophy, and politics. We learn how Einstein used his worldwide fame to disseminate his views on pacifism and supranationalism through the media (views that provoked anti-Semitic reactions and charges of Communist leanings from right-wingers). Along the way, Pais sheds new light on some of the controversies surrounding this intellectual giant. For instance, Pais lays to rest the claim that Einstein's first wife, Mileva Mari, played a significant creative role in the development of special relativity. Pais also explains how Einstein's scientific mind-set prevented him from accepting the indeterminate nature of quantum mechanics—even though he called it ``the most successful physical theory of our period.'' There is considerable repetition from essay to essay and despite the author's best intentions, much of the scientific discussion will lie beyond the grasp of the lay reader. Those seeking a broad overview of Einstein's life will be better served elsewhere.

Pub Date: May 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-19-853994-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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