ALBERT EINSTEIN by Albrecht Fîlsing


A Biography
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 Another full-scale biography, this one translated from the German, of the preeminent physicist of modern times. Fîlsing (head of science for the North German Radio/Television Network) recognizes that Albert Einstein (18791955) was a complex man whose importance went far beyond his enormous contributions to science. However, as the author (himself a physicist by training) points out, physics was Einstein's ``passion and his life,'' and many of the other events of his life--his involvement in politics, his celebrity status, his efforts on behalf of the Jewish people- -were more in the nature of distractions from his true calling. So while the present volume does not skimp in its treatment of Einstein's life outside science, physics provides the central focus--and, unfortunately, its central weakness. Readers without considerable scientific background may feel that Fîlsing fails to adequately explain many of the central questions to which Einstein addressed himself. On the other hand, Fîlsing offers a fascinating picture of the life of a scientist in the first half of this century. Einstein's school career, his job at the Swiss patent office, his movement into the academic world (and the political maneuvers this involved), and his acceptance by the international scientific community are covered in marvelous detail. Einstein's private life has been the subject of some controversy; however, despite having access to many previously unpublished letters, Fîlsing has little to contribute to such questions as whether Einstein's first wife, Mileva, had any substantial input into the theory of relativity. Einstein's later years, from the accession of Hitler in 1933 to the scientist's death, are given remarkably short shrift. The translation, with numerous muddy patches and unidiomatic translations, often falls short of clarity. While it sheds interesting light on many aspects of Einstein's life, this biography will be of more interest to the specialist than to the general reader.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-670-85545-6
Page count: 928pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1997