The amount of literature on Einstein is simply enormous, exceeding many times that written on any other scientist. The great bulk of this work, however, is the simple vulgarization of his scientific ideas. Thus, Clark is to be congratulated for writing a biography that combines all the facets of Einstein’s career, scientific and nonscientific, public and private. The book is meant to be scholarly and substantial, yet also accessible to anyone interested in Einstein. Although intended for adults, a young adult reader should have no difficulty understanding its contents.
The earlier chapters contain capable expositions of Einstein’s ideas and the for-mulation of the relativity and quantum theories. These should cause no bewilderment among curious young readers, as an assessment of Einstein’s work is quite possible without much mathematics. Clark’s ability to do so, however, ranges from the skillful to the inadequate. He can be criticized for his superficial knowledge of modern physics, which sometimes puts him at a disadvantage both in placing Einstein’s contribution within the context of the history of science and in analyzing the science itself. For example, he sometimes errs or fails to understand the point in such matters as the Einstein-Bohr debates over the interpretation of quantum mechanics.
Clark is more at home with the external career of Einstein: his Jewishness, his religiousness, his home life, his two marriages and one divorce, and...
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Clark’s Einstein represents an attempt to cut through the myths, reminiscences, and legends that have grown around Einstein. The enormous literature on the best-known scientist of the twentieth century includes numerous biographies, but none of the biographies preceding Clark’s were historically researched or documented. An exception was Carl Seelig’s Albert Einstein (1954), which was written in German and based on a collection of Swiss documents that Seelig expanded into a documentary biography on Einstein’s life in Switzerland. Clark’s book also coincides with and reflects the appearance of serious historical studies on Einstein that date only from the late 1960’s.
In this context, Clark wrote the longest, fullest, and most extensively researched biography of Einstein. Thus, the book is unique among Einstein literature. As a well-researched, well-written, serious, and balanced biography, Einstein is the only book that a young reader can turn to for information on all the features of Einstein’s life and career. The reader will find capable and understandable accounts of Einstein’s ideas—whether of science, religion, politics, or government—as well as information about the more mundane aspects of this individual’s life. Einstein can be recommended to any curious young person, regardless of whether that person is interested in becoming a scientist or has any interest in the subject. This long biography is worth the effort.