Einstein: The Life and Times Critical Context - Essay

Ronald W. Clark

Critical Context

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.