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1.0 out of 5 stars Buyer beware: the Hawking brand label is misleading., 25 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: A Stubbornly Persistent Illusion: The Essential Scientific Works of Albert Einstein (Paperback)
This book consists essentially of a series of reprints of Einstein's classic papers on relativity, bound in glossy covers and dressed up as having a "commentary" by Stephen Hawking. But you soon discover that the alleged commentary, and Hawking's name prominently displayed on the front cover, is little but a marketing come-on.

I received this book as a present from a well-meaning friend who knows my interest in popular accounts of physics and who was misled by the marketing flannel. The obvious thought is that Hawking will have done for relativity what he did for time, and provided an understandable account, or at least a series of illuminating commentaries, on the classic papers by Einstein.

If you thought so, you have been fooled. There is an introduction to the book by Hawking, which presumably is just enough to allow the publishers to evade prosecution under the Trades Descriptions Act, and then you are left with the papers themselves, with no commentary, no explanation, nothing.

The saddest thing is that someone of Hawking's gifts really could have made his mark with this book. An object lesson in what is possible is Charles Petzold's recent book "The Annotated Turing", where he takes the reader step by step through Turing's 1936 paper in which he essentially laid the theoretical foundation for modern theories of computing.

Someone somewhere may take up the challenge. Meanwhile, it is hard to see whom this book can possibly satisfy. The serious student will want a proper modern textbook, and can download the original papers online. The average reader will be flummoxed by all but the most basic of the papers. What a waste of trees.
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