Einstein: a life

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J. Wiley, Apr 20, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 509 pages
"An utterly fascinating life of a great scientist, full of new insights and very readable." --Ashley Montagu

His name is synonymous with genius. His work helped shape the twentieth century and point the way toward the next. In the more than forty years since his death, Albert Einstein has continued to intrigue and inspire new generations. Now, in the first full-scale biography of Einstein to be published in some twenty years, acclaimed author Denis Brian probes the private, public, and scientific personas of the enigmatic man behind the legend.

For two decades, Denis Brian pored over the Einstein archives and conducted extensive interviews with the scientist's friends and associates. In the process, he discovered a wealth of absorbing new information, much of it previously withheld by those closest to Einstein--including Helen Dukas, his personal secretary, and Otto Nathan, the executor of Einstein's estate. What emerges in Brian's brilliantly drawn life of Einstein is a down-to-earth and always compelling figure.

Brian skillfully illuminates the curious, quirky nature and the dreams and motivating events that drove the scientist-to-be on his improbable journey to the heights of achievement and worldwide admiration. Here is Einstein as a young boy, perplexing classmates and teachers alike with his refusal to conform. Here is the headstrong teenager, a seemingly reluctant student resolutely rejecting a life tied to a "practical" job. Yet, ultimately, his work changed forever the way scientists viewed the world, from the first draft of his revolutionary special theory of relativity in 1905--it took twenty-five years for his famous E = mc2 equation to be verified--to the development of the atomic bomb (and his controversial role as critic of the nuclear arms race that followed).

Exploring this staggering legacy in conversation with many of Einstein's contemporaries, Denis Brian penetrates the veil of formulas, theories, and experiments to expand our understanding of their meaning. With incisive, intimate detail, he recreates the world in which Einstein worked, in solitude and with others, revered by his assistants and enjoying warm relationships with other physicists.

Also included in Brian's comprehensive portrait are the FBI's investigation of Einstein's alleged communist connections, as well as his efforts on behalf of Europe's Jews during Hitler's rise to power, and his ardent support of the formation of the state of Israel. A complex man of many contradictions--a scientist engrossed in his work yet with a roving eye for women, a humanist whose compassion for the children of others did not extend to his own, a pacifist who helped create the most destructive weapon known to man--Albert Einstein is revealed as never before in this lucid, rewarding biography. With rare photos, many appearing here for the first time, Einstein: A Life is, as befits its subject, a masterful achievement.

"A fascinating read with more interesting material about Einstein as a human being than I have ever seen before . . . . Once I started it, I couldn't put it down." --Robert Jastrow astrophysicist and bestselling author

"A thoughtful and captivating account of one whom I had the joy of knowing and loving."--George Wald Nobel Laureate

"Does the best job of integrating the recognized genius of Einstein with the rest of his life . . . in a charming yet straightforward manner." --Stanley Goldberg author of Understanding Relativity

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User Review  - Kirkus

This new biography attempts a balanced assessment of the most famous scientist of modern times. Brian (Genius Talk: Conversations with Nobel Scientists and Other Luminaries, 1995) draws on material ... Read full review

Einstein: a life

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The making of the mythology of Albert Einstein began well before his death and shows no sign of abating. One of these books aims to cut through the myth; the other to capitalize on it. Brian's ... Read full review


Childhood and Youth
First Romance
To Zurich and the Polytechnic

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About the author (1996)

DENIS BRIAN is the author of The True Gen: An Intimate Portrait of Hemingway by Those Who Knew Him and Genius Talk: Conversations with Nobel Scientists and Other Luminaries. He lives in West Palm Beach, Florida.

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