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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Einstein is a true Genius
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...
Published on 7 July 2009 by Mr. M. Hassan

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The right book if you are looking to understand the man behind the myth.
An interesting biography of a very complex man. I found it very difficult to follow all the discussions around relativity, time, space and physics in general, nonetheless I'm sure Isaacson made a great job of describing Einstein's break-throughs in this field.
Easier to read and somehow more valuable are the parts about the private Einstein, the one who never got...
Published on 24 April 2012 by Giovanni Anchois


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Einstein is a true Genius, 7 July 2009
By 
Mr. M. Hassan (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Einstein: His Life and Universe (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional look into Einstein's life and how it shaped his science, 1 May 2007
By 
Wayne Klein "If at first the idea is not absu... (My Little Blue Window, USA) - See all my reviews
(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. This guilt shaped his role in leading the charge for a world government that would prevent individual nations from using the atomic bomb. He later stated that if he had known Germany wasn't going to be able to develop the atomic bomb, he "never would have lifted a finger" to prompt the United States to develop this weapon of mass destruction. He never forgave the German people for their role in trying to exterminate Jews and others prohibiting sale of his books in post-war Germany and stated that he felt the country should continue to be punished for what occurred. Isaacson addresses some of the contradictions of the man of peace who contributed and supported war showing that while Einstein had his absolute convicitions they could sometimes shift depending on the circumstances. Einstein never pretended to be perfect and Isaacson does a good job of portraying the flawed but brilliant human being at the core of all that brain power. The biggest surprise for me was discovering that he unwittingly had an affair with a Soviet spy.

Most importantly the author manages to give understandable explanations of Einstein's theories and how he came up with many of them. One can't understand Einstein's world without understanding his world view or the way that his papers/theories altered the world we live in today. I'd recommend this book for the compelling human portrait that Isaacson creates of one of the leading figures of science in the 20th Century.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating biography, 17 May 2008
By 
Big Jim "Big Jim" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Einstein: His Life and Universe (Paperback)
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
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This review is from: Einstein: His Life and Universe (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Einstein: His Life and Universe (Paperback)
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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I was surprised, 2 Aug 2009
By 
Mr. Colin Crews "Mick Crews" (Berkhamsted, Herts. UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Einstein: His Life and Universe (Paperback)
This was a book that was chosen for me by being a member of a Book Club. I would not have chosen it for myself.

I enjoyed the way the book unfolded and it was possible to read it like a story, not a dry worthy biography.

The author presents the whole Einstein. There is no attempt to glam it up. And I am learning some science as I go along.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Einstein, Genius & Nice Guy, 11 Oct 2008
By 
A. Byrne "Irish Reviewer" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Einstein: His Life and Universe (Paperback)
Walter Isaacson has created a unique and wholely respectful insight into the life of one of the great scientific figures of the 20th century.

As with any biography that is true to the subject and not retrospectively judgemental, Mr. Isaacson paints a very human picture of a man held in awe by most and misunderstood by many.

This is a first rate book. I've taken one star off, as the scientific detail could even be shorter.

Mr.Isaacson, keep writing please !
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This biography is a gift to civilisation!!!, 26 April 2012
By 
FractalMan (London, England) - See all my reviews
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Sorry, there's no other way to put it. What Isaacson achieved was not only a great historical chronicle of the greatest thinker of the 20th century, but he also manages to capture, as closely as reasonably possible, the thought process that Einstein engaged in. the attentive reader will also see that it was this thought process that also contributed to his stubbornness about the Quantum sphere. this was one of those biographies that I read piecemeal. There are so many wonderful anecdotes enmeshed into this narrative that after reading them, I wanted to let them swim around my consciousness for a day. The backdrop of the growth of 20th century nationalism plays heavily in this narrative and one can't help but be amazed that such great minds emerged from such a dogmatic time. One looks at the times we live in today and cannot help but be in awe that the quest for scientific truth was so resolute.

I hope were made of the same strong stuff.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The incredible story of one of history's most famous minds, 13 Aug 2014
This review is from: Einstein: His Life and Universe (Paperback)
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.

As a complete layman to science and knowing very little more about Albert Einstein other than the fact that he looked like the stereotypical mad scientist and he had come up with the equation e=mc2 (though I had no idea what this meant) I was completely ignorant to the bulk of accomplishments man. The main reason why I had picked it up was to hopefully get a slightly toned down version of his famous theories and understand a bit more about the science he is so famous for.

I was really surprised then to read about a very playful person with the checkered sexual history of a rockstar. His views and his many profound statements that were quoted in this book that often had little to do with science often had me laughing out loud which is rare when reading a book.

His personal life, his professional life and more importantly the way that he and his theories impacted the world around him both during his life and since his death are all equally fascinating. Not surprisingly a lot of the science in the book went over my head but I never grew bored with what I read. If anything I simply grew more eager to wrap my mind about his fascinating theories.

Overall this is an excellent book that does an obviously brilliant man justice. The writing is as good here as it is in the Jobs biography (the only book I have read previously by the same author) and what I find truly enjoyable was how the science elements were made understandable by the layman without ever feeling as though I was being spoken down to.

This is an excellent book that I can't recommend highly enough.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The man and the genius. Isaacson let's you know how he did it, 25 April 2008
By 
Emc2 (Tropical Ecotopia) - See all my reviews
This is an excellent Einstein biography. I really love it; a real page-turner, completely captured my attention for several of days, until I finished with a sensation of wanting for more. No doubt it was very well researched, and includes new details uncovered from Einstein's letters recently made available for the public. Very well written, and Isaacson ability to explain complex science is outstanding, although my guess is that more than a bit of basic knowledge of physics is required to fully grasp the scientific discussions of relativity, quantum mechanics and the like.

The book is particularly insightful in recounting how Einstein developed his theories, just with thought experiments; his rebellious attitude toward authority of any kind; his endless fight against quantum theory (now I do understood what he meant and why he died thinking that God does not play dice); the controversies and interactions with the other scientific giants of his time; and his failure to develop a unified field theory, all of these aspects leading smoothly to the understanding on how he developed not only his revolutionary theories, but his philosophy about science, education, politics, and God. Also, the book goes into deep details on how he went from apolitical to an activist on Zionism, and from a pacifist to a supporter of the US entering WWII; his limited but key role on the US development of the atomic bomb, and afterwards, his regret; closing with his stand against McCarthyism. And because nobody is perfect, the biography shows his main weakness, throughout his life he was a lousy father and husband.

Coming back to the science, I had always been curious in understanding how Einstein came up with his theories without experimentation; even Newton did experiments to develop his laws. This biography explains in minute detail how he did it through his clever thought experiments. Also, the recount presented provides a good idea on how science progresses, from Einstein's fight against the prevailing paradigms in the beginning of his career, to Einstein's stubborn skepticism against the new paradigm he himself contributed to develop, quantum mechanics. Also I found fascinating how the more he used his thought experiments in trying to falsify quantum mechanics, the more the theory got reinforced. A good example on how the real scientific method works, illustrating the importance of an open debate for science to get closer to the truth. Also a really good historic example for those who believe that scientific theories can be proven by consensus.

I highly recommend this book for those interested in modern physics, cosmology, the history of science, philosophy of science, or just Einstein's admirers.

PD: Finally, a word of advice for some readers in order to avoid disappointment based on the majority of positives reviews. Me and the other reviewers who gave five stars to the book might have been carried away, but I think it is very likely that most of us have a decent background on physics, and/or have read a lot about cosmology, or just have a good grasp of hard sci-fi. Readers have to be aware of the complexity of several of the scientific explanations. So, despite Isaacson's clarity in explaining the science, some parts of the book are not Carl Sagan stuff. If you have read Hawking's "A Brief History of Time", or Paul Davies' "God and the New Physics", or any similar books on modern astrophysics and cosmology, and didn't like them, couldn't understand much, or simply got bored, then this caveat might apply to you. But if you are really interested in Einstein's life and achievements, my advice is to try and just skip the more technical parts, the book is still very interesting without the technical stuff.
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Einstein: His Life and Universe
Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson (Paperback - 26 April 2008)
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