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4.1 out of 5 stars77
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 21 January 1999
An interesting and in-depth view of relativity. A slight mathematics background is very helpful with understanding some of the equations. The concept is clear and well articulated. It leaves you wanting a deeper knowledge of physics and Einstein.
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on 31 May 2009
This book has a historical value that exceeds whatever cons it might have.

It is a book that explains Relativity by Einstein himself, and not an interpretation by any scientist! That alone makes it a MUST-READ.

Some people criticized for being hard to understand, and bad written. Well relativity itself is a mind-bending theory. Especially if you dont simple state the facts, but you follow every simple step to prove it, and reach conclusions. It could be better written, but it wouldnt make a huge difference and in addition it doesnt reduce this book's value a bit. Must have in your library!
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on 5 August 2014
The original translation has been scanned and character recognition software has been used to print this edition. However the inevitable mistakes that this leads to are still present as the book has clearly not been proof-read. As a result the book is pretty unreadable with large and frequent typographical errors. Supposedly, the original scan can be found on the website of the publishers but this is not the case. From what I can see of the text it is very interesting and well presented as well as being concise. So I recommend the book but certainly not this edition.
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There are many books that attempt to explain the theory of relativity to the layman, without mathematics, but this one is unique, because it was written by the creator of the theory, Albert Einstein. First published in 1916, it has gone through numerous editions and reprints and is available from a variety of publishers. (This particular edition is not perhaps the best typographically.) In just 150 or so small paperback-sized pages, Einstein explains the theories of both special and general relativity by models and analogues, with only occasional very simple mathematics. (There are several short appendices that explore the topics using more detailed, but still simple, mathematics.) The style is conversational and the language unique. Where else in a science book would you find sentences such as: "I should load my conscience with grave sins against the sacred spirit of lucidity were I to formulate the aims of mechanics in this way, without serious reflection and detailed explanations. Let us proceed to disclose these sins", and "No fairer destiny could be allotted to any physical theory, than that it should of itself point out the way to the introduction of a more comprehensive theory, in which it lives on as a limiting case". This may not be the best book to actually learn the theory of relativity in detail, because it is difficult to do this without some familiarity with mathematics. But reading the words of the master is an experience that should not be missed.
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on 27 April 2010
This short paper was Einstein's effort to provide the intelligent layman with some understanding of the theories and of the thinking behind their development. I very much enjoyed reading this as a "historical" document in Einstein's own words, so to speak. I expect that there are more modern and better written publications for those who simply would like to gain some understanding of the theories. This particular version is very badly marred by many errors of the typo, printing, editing kind. But at the very low price it is still worth having.
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on 22 July 2014
I am fortunate in having a Folio copy of the original book, so can check up,if I have a doubt. I purchased the Kindle version for ease when travelling. I have seen the annoying but not terribly important typos. However what did irritate me is that one of the equations is incorrect! Look at page 84, fortunately the equation is repeated (this time correctly) on page 87.
Happy hunting!! At least you have to read it properly and be wide awake to find the mistakes so maybe get a better understanding - perverse or what??
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on 21 July 2011
Great for the young student of Physics!

This is an excellent book, written in the "Master's" own style and faithfully translated from the German by Robert Lawson. The translation dates to 1920 and new readers may find the English a little quaint, but for all that, it is a great effort at presenting in "plain speak", the concepts of Relativity.

The book starts with a lucid explanation of the Train and Platform example of Galelian Relativity and then proceeds to highlight the incompatibility between the principle of relativity and the constancy of the speed of light. Without encumbering the reader with the Maths (found in the appendices) the ideas of time dilation and length contraction are discussed. The General Theory is developed via a fine example: that of an observer on a rotating disk.

This is a good complement to the overtly scientific/mathematical books on the subject. Unfortunately,, despite its many qualities, just like many of the alternatives of this genre, Einstein's book does not fully succeed in explaining the complex concepts to the lay reader. Rather, this is a nice little book that will be suitable for a good calibre Maths/Physics student in the sixth form/high school.
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on 14 January 2015
It is not acceptable to sell a book in this condition. The original book has been scanned with an OCR program and printed directly. It is full of typos (something like 30 per page) and the worst part is: the formulae are cut, they are not visible. This makes the book illegible and useless.
Overall this publication is a rip-off.
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on 24 February 2013
There are many easier to understand books on the subject than this, despite it being written by the man himself, as a result of the unnecessarily flowery and verbose language and style. However, if you can see through the fog of the language, the way his insights into the reality of space-time developed can be perceived.
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on 2 January 2015
This a quite excellent explanation of the special and general principles of relativity. Einstein breaks this book down into small digestible chunks that take anywhere between ten minutes to half an hour to read. While many people will have looked through Wikipedia and/ or physics texts in an attempt to understand relativity, Einstein explains his counter-intuitive theories in a non-academic, down to Earth and thoroughly understandable manner.

My only criticism is that in converting this text into Kindle format, is that the mathematical equations (of which there are admittedly not many) tend to be in small font (which is sometimes difficult to read) and do not lend themselves to re-sizing along with the rest of the text: as such I've only given this four stars.

That said if you don't have much time, this is an excellent read that can easily be accommodated bit by bit on one's daily commute.
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