5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Book!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 16, 2022
This a beautiful book!! The photos are stunning, especially the ones of the documents, letters and papers that are written in his own handwriting that pop off the page as if they are actually in my own hands. A perfect coffee table book to enjoy again and again.
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful celebration of a great mind
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 October 2022
The author, Gary Berger, was familiar with Einstein from an early age but not being a scientist he, like most of us, couldn't really make sense of black holes, bending light, quantum physics and the general theory of relativity. Berger, though, felt a connection to this great mind of the last century and started to collect photos of Einstein. These weren't just any old photos but, rather uniquely, ones that were signed by Einstein. There are fifty-one, mostly portraits arranged historically with brief messages and signatures either written on the photo or the card they were mounted on. An additional fifty-three photos show covers of German scientific magazines with articles by Einstein and letters he wrote over his lifetime.
The book is, quite stunningly, a beautiful photo biography of Einstein, his life story and discoveries accompany the photos and other graphics. The publisher has gone the extra mile to celebrate his life. The book is large and printed on thick semi-matt paper (with a two hundred screen for the images) several pages with Einstein's face are printed with silver ink and frequently these have large type quotes printed on tracing paper. Excellent typography throughout the pages enhance the large photos.
I must admit that I'm none the wiser about Einstein's theories but the words and photos about this humble, remarkable man made him come alive for me. You can look inside the book at Westread Book Reviews then click 2022 and October.
In the first true page of this book: the dedication, the authors and contributors make it clear that this book is dedicated to the memory of Alert Einstein. Furthermore, they declare on this page that all royalties will be contributed to the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. As the authors mention, Einstein’s name is truly synonymous with genius, although not many people truly understand why.
Einstein did so much for the field of physics. However, his rise to becoming one of the most recognized mainstream icons is unexplainable as he is labeled as one of the first “stars of science” (p. 13). Interestingly, in the preface, author Gary Berger mentions he spent his teenage weekends in the home of Max Herzberger, another renowned physicist and friend of Einstein’s. This coupled with the dedication, drive the passion, excitement, and tone of the following pages of “Einstein: The Man and His Mind.”
This book has heft. It’s large, heavy, and hardcore. With very thick and regal pages, this read is more than just its sheer physical weight and size. Its hardbacked covers encapsulate so much knowledge and history. As a well-known figurehead of science, this book on Einstein’s life, achievements, and work gives readers real insight and intelligence into the history and trajectory of the man.
With quotes, pictures, stories, and summaries, there is so much to enjoy about this read. Each page taught me more and more, such as what would light look like if we caught up to it? The question behind the famous equation e = mc2, a formula discovered “purely by thought” (p. 32), which just shows exactly how brilliant his mind was. Famously the one behind the discovery and creation of the atomic bomb, one of his greatest life regrets, this equation helped to understand the energy source of stars and the basis of nuclear energy power use in power and electricity.
Einstein was also more than just his scientific brain. He famously stated if he hadn’t been a physicist, he would have been a musician, indicating that he thinks in music, daydreams in music, and sees life in music. However, while the pictures and stories within this tome told of his personal and professional pursuits, much of his family life is excluded. There are only brief mentions of his wife, stepdaughter and son, something I wish would have been included more thoroughly.
“Einstein: The Man and His Mind” is extraordinarily engaging, thought provoking and insightful. It is certainly a book that I will go back to time and time again and, given its size and beauty, will also likely attract the attention of guests as well.
Science books aren’t generally seasonal. Readers don’t need to know about, say, “forever chemicals” or Homo Naledi in advance of Thanksgiving or the 4th of July more than they do at any other time of year. This means that, as a reviewer of science books, I have not ever started an article with the classic phrase ,“Just in time for Christmas.”
Just in time for Christmas comes an enormous (4.4 pounds, 10 x 1.25 x 13 inches), beautiful coffee table book about Albert Einstein, his private life, and his many theories, some world-changing, some early busts. I’ve already decided to whom I will give my copy this Christmas, and I’m going to have to lug the thing on a long train ride to do so. I will do so gladly, that’s how gorgeous and effective I think the book is.
The book in question is Einstein: The Man and his Mind. Written for non-scientists, it consists of autographed photos, papers, articles, and quotes as collected by Gregory S. Berger, MD, and kept in lis private collection in Chapel Hill, NC. Dr. Berger wrote the book in concert with Michael DiRuggiero, the owner of the Manhattan Rare Book Company, which DiRuggiero co-founded and where he specializes in books about the history of science and, in particular, about Albert Einstein. Hanoch Gutfreund, the Andre Aisenstadt Chair in theoretical physics and past president at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, contributed the book’s Forward. (Einstein was one of the founding fathers at the university. All royalties from the book will be donated to the university’s Albert Einstein Archives.) Significant credit for this book also belongs to book designer Yolanda Cuomo, an American artist who has, over the years, collaborated with Richard Avedon, Paul Simon, Laurie Anderson, Twyla Tharp, and many others including the estate of Diane Arbus. Her design and execution of the physical book is simultaneously respectful and emotionally and intellectually moving.
In my experience, books about Einstein quickly become a blur of equations, dates, and Germanic names. With this book, my eye was drawn to compelling photos and to lightly delivered anecdotes, some of which explain the progression of Einstein’s ideas and some of which merely point out what a quirky fellow he was. For example, when Einstein was visiting California in the early 1930s, he met Charlie Chaplain. Apparently, the encounter between the two extraordinary personages went in part like this:
Einstein: What I most admire about your art is your universality. You don’t say a word, yet the world understands you.
Chaplin: True. But your glory is even greater! The whole world admires you, even though they don’t understand a word of what you say.
In Einstein: The Man and His Mind, the flow of photos and information is divided into chapters that mark decades, though the first chapter covers the years 1890-1920. The year 1905 may have been the most extraordinary of them all for Einstein. Often referred to as his “miracle year,” in 1905 he published four seminal papers: In the third of those four papers he introduced the special theory of relativity, which described the structure of space-time. In the fourth, he tweaked the ideas of the third and specifically equated mass and energy. By doing so he created what has long been referred to as “the most famous scientific equation of all time”: E=MC2.
After his miracle year, Einstein worked with various contributors to push his special theory of relativity even further, ultimately making assertions in 1916 about relativity on an astronomical scale. The resulting “general relativity theory” vitally informs astrophysics and space research to this day.
Einstein: The Man and his Mind highlights many of Einstein’s contributions with photos of the man and his work. The “work” pictures are mostly just journal covers. However, in the case of Einstein’s general relativity paper, photos of every page of the paper are shown. Einstein wrote in German and no translation is provided. It hardly matters. The photos themselves are presented with all of the reverence that might normally be afforded newly discovered Dead Sea Scrolls. They are thrilling.
As brilliant as he was, even Einstein made mistakes — big ones. Several are noted in the book. One example: Late in the winter of 1928, Einstein built anticipation in the press for a major paper that would be published on January 30, 1929. Some newspapers and magazines promised that it would be Einstein’s most ambitious work to-date. In the January 30 paper, Einstein claimed to have united the two seemingly incompatible pillars of modern physics: quantum theory and general relativity. As it turned, out he hadn’t. His ideas were disproven shortly after they were published. The pages presenting Einstein’s minor catastrophe include a January 5, 1929 letter that Einstein wrote to his good friend Michael Besso. In it he extolled his unification ideas and the impact he thought they would have.
The entire affair was one huge pratfall.
The formal and casual portraits of Einstein in this book are endearing. So are stories about him. In an effort to simplify his life, he refused to wear socks. He wouldn’t wear them to the White House to meet President Roosevelt. He wouldn’t wear them to the courthouse the day he took his United States citizenship test. He also wouldn’t bother with haircuts. (A six-year-old girl once chided him about the state of his hair.) Some days, when he lived in Princeton, he would wander for hours with no apparent destination in mind. He loved music. The book has a photo of what appears to be Einstein playing “air baton” (if you will), listening to music alone at home and conducting it with his finger.
Einstein: The Man and His Mind is an inspiring tribute. I like it so much that I’m even unashamed to call it the perfect gift for the physicist in your life ... arriving “just in time for Christmas.”
Einstein: The Man and His Mind
By Gary S. Berger and Michael DiRuggiero
Damiani. 6o pounds (Italy). Also available in the United States in bookstores and online.