Einstein: The Life and Times Critical Essays

Ronald W. Clark


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

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...

(The entire section is 604 words.)