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Einstein: His Life and Universe [Hardcover]

Walter Isaacson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 April 2007
By the author of the acclaimed bestseller 'Benjamin Franklin', this is the first full biography of Albert Einstein since all of his papers have become available. How did his mind work? What made him a genius? Isaacson's biography shows how his scientific imagination sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality. His fascinating story is a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom. Based on newly released personal letters of Einstein, this book 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.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Book Club Edition edition (10 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743264738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743264730
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.5 x 5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 995,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life and of Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter.

Product Description


"Once again Walter Isaacson has produced a most valuable biography of a great man about whom much has already been written. It helps that he has had access to important new material. He met the challenge of dealing with his subject as a human being and describing profound ideas in physics. His biography is a pleasure to read and makes the great physicist come alive." -- Murray Gell-Mann, winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics and author of "The Quark and the Jaguar"

About the Author

Walter Isaacson is president of the Aspen Institute. He has been chairman and CEO of CNN and managing editor of TIME magazine. He is the author of several books including the US bestseller BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: AN AMERICAN LIFE. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Einstein is a true Genius 7 July 2009
I too have read quite a few Biographies and what I consider to be the most important quality for one to be successful, is that the work resonates the character of the subject. Reading quotes from the many critics listed, you too will be of those complimenting the amazing work of the Author.

This has to be one of the most intelligently written works I have read - it flowed like a Fictional Thriller. It's true that the word "Genius" has become synonymous with Einstein, and reading this book will make you appreciate how he had attained that stature.

The book is broken down into chapters that correlate the significant events of his life. Every single work he has produced is explained in considerable detail, also entailing the surrounding influences to Einstein. The book humanely describes the sacrifices Einstein had to endure in the lead up and following of his success. The book demonstrates another aspect of Einstein which is pretty much unknown: that he was a man of absolute Principle, and would never compromise in order to make his life easier.

This is the only book you will ever need to read about Einstein.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
By Wayne Klein VINE VOICE
Walter Isaacson's biography of Einstein creates a fuller better rounded image of one of the finest minds of the 20th Century than many biographies of Einstein. Although it's not without its flaws, Issacson's book covers much of Einstein's life pointing out both his successes and flaws as both a person and physicist.

We learn that as a child Einstein suffered from what could be echolalia (which is where you mutter a phrase to yourself multiple times before saying it to others). Issacson notes both Einstein's debt to Hume, Planck and philosphers such as Kant in helping develop both his world view and his breakthroughs in science. To his credit Isaacson also points out that the man that came to embody the modern view of physics and became a hero had feet of clay; Einstein gave up his daughter for adoption without ever seeing her and spent much of his time away from Mileva (who would eventually become his first wife) while she was pregnant for a variety of reasons some understandable some not. The young Einstein was brash,egotistic and obnoxious (or you could call him overly confident) often pointing out flaws in papers by the very professors he was seeking jobs from. He also charts Einstein's difficult path to his professorship including his stint working in the Swiss patent office.

Isaacson does cover Einstein's support for the development of the atomic bomb (although this is a relatively small section of the biography) and mentions that Einstein later regreted the bombing that occurred in Japan during World War II. When Einstein came up with this famous equation, he never imagined it would be used for mass destruction. He was conflicted over his role in the development of the atomic bomb feeling both responsibility and guilty over his role.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating biography 17 May 2008
Having just finished the recent biographies of Stanley and the young Stalin, this one had a lot to live up to, and whilst not containing the elements of derring do that those two books had, this is nonetheless a fascinating and enthralling story. Many new facts have recently emerged about Einstein's life and Mr Isaacson has woven them into a story that is easy to get through and grips throughout, which will hopefully encourage those who may not be so keen on science books to give this a chance. It is fair to say that Einstein was a "bit of s lad" at times, and belies his "mad scientist" image - he really should have got a hairdresser to sort his mane out!

I heard the author speaking on NPR radio and was keen to emphasise that this is a personal story more than a scientific tome, and indeed the science contained herein is excellently described without overwhelming the little grey cells. The book also serves as a history of the scientific politics both pre, during and post world war two which is an added bonus to be honest.

If you are at all interested in famous lives, science and or history then this book should appeal to you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful insight into the mind of a genius 9 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I cannot add much to what has been said by others here. The author has incredible knowledge of Einstein's life and a good grasp of the physics that made Einstein famous. It is bewildering that anyone can write such a comprehensive work. I see the author is/was also the CEO of CNN. Quite an extraordinary panoply of talent. The book is fascinating and at no point does it leave you cold. Complex principles of theoretical physics are explained clearly without resorting to the underlying mathematical equations. Einstein was as often wrong as he was correct but when he was correct he revolutionized how we see the Universe. JP.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A concise life of Einstein for non-specialists 16 Feb 2009
Isaacson's book is beautifully written, brilliantly researched, and sympathetic to its subject without disguising Einstein's (minor) human shortcomings.

The scientific ideas are explained without complex mathematics, and the scientific background to Einstein's radical thought experiments is well described. Also interesting is Einstein's growing identification with his Jewishness - his reaction against anti-Semitism - as are the (failed) attempts by various political groups to enrol him in their causes. And I was happy to learn that his favourite pastime after physics and playing the violin was sailing, at which he was endearingly incompetent.

Specialists may want to read Abraham Pais' "Subtle is the Lord", the rest of us will be well satisfied by this biography.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars but I can follow most of the scientific words and it is beautifully...
I am not into physics. Have up to O'level physics many decades ago, but I can follow most of the scientific words and it is beautifully written. So enjoying reading this book!
Published 17 days ago by Mrs. Bina M. Patel
5.0 out of 5 stars The incredible story of one of history's most famous minds
You don't need to be a physicist or even all that interested in science to thoroughly enjoy the story of this truly great man. Read more
Published 19 days ago by GOTTON
5.0 out of 5 stars Arrived in time and well protected
It arrived in time and it was well protected. I had some troubles in december with other orders, but this one didn't disappoint me.
Published 2 months ago by Luchian Laura
5.0 out of 5 stars The human side of a genius
After reading this I really feel that understand Einstein as a person. Not only does it give insight into what contributed to his genius and willingness to challenge conventional... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Stewart Lacey
5.0 out of 5 stars einstein
walter isaacson is the epitome of biography writers. marvelous prose and lucid insights into the life of a most remarkable man. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mr. Moshe Elias
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Biography
I thoroughly enjoyed Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs which encouraged me to read his biography of Einstein. Again, I found it a very enjoyable read. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ian Sutherland
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I bought this book for my boyfriend as I know that he likes Einstein. He hasn't started reading it yet but he is very pleased with it.
Published 8 months ago by marcela
4.0 out of 5 stars Einstein: His Life and Universe
A book is always a personal choice. Nevertheless I found the book very interesting and I like Walter Isaacson's way of writing.
Published 12 months ago by Inge Linderoos
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-sourced and authoritative biography of Einstein
This proved to be an interesting and very complete biography of Einstein, with sources listed for all key facts. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Roger
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
This is a really well researched, authoritative biography that also manages to be very readable and funny on occasion. I would highly recommend it. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Impressed
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