Einstein I guess is no more a name, it’s a title given to someone who stands out from the crowd as long as the science and knowledge is concerned. We all have that one “Einstein” in our groups of all kinds where a man behaves exactly like him and owes the title. One such Einstein I am delighted to know, who happens to be my colleague, a couple of years junior who gifted this Biography to my 11 year old daughter :). Guess he deserves the title isn’t it? :). I have no idea why I delayed reading this one heck of an amazing book for so long. It’s been a part of profile picture for more than a year now and it was high time that I read it. Also, this happened to my second book from Walter Isaacson, which I totally end up loving big time. I am so looking forward to his other works, especially Biographies, guess he is the master of Biographies. The years that this book covers from 1879 to 1955 was one amazing time when so much was happening and making history. So many historical figures and people that Einstein shared his time and space with was totally amazing. I was totally grinning to read those fundoo literary names having a ball with Einstein. One that I need to mention big time was “Franz Kafka” and Einstein together, just imagine 🙂 and Sigmund Freud making faces on the men talking 🙂 can that moment be beaten. The man himself became bigger than the Nobel Prize 🙂 and was so casual that he traveled to Japan while they wanted to felicitate him and didn’t even postpone his plan even after knowing :), although gave his speech later and received the award.
I had no idea before reading this mammoth of a book (680+ pages) with at least 120 page long glossary 🙂 just imagine. And Einstein to my amazement, shock, surprise and Awe was an amazing character with a very colorful life. I am sure a lot of you guys must have read “A Man Called Ove”, if you take Mr. Ove and make him a scientist – he will be the perfect “Albert Einstein”. Brooding, grumpy old man yet a hardcore romantic with a solid sense of humor, who throws punchlines after punchlines without a break on all his students, colleagues, family members and even on some renowned politicians. Another thing that I didn’t have the vaguest idea about his origin was that he was actually a Jew born in Germany who end up holding as many as three countries citizenship by the time he died (Germany, Swiss as well as American). On top of that, he actually got an offer to be the President of Israel that he willingly declined as he knew (not) that he wasn’t cut out for the role but the role didn’t actually deserved a guy like him (you really need to read the book to more on it, hilarious it is). He was one of the most famous Jew at that time and Israeli politicians had no option but to offer him the post, dreading what if he accepted :).
What I most loved about the book or let me say about this Biography is that Walter Isaacson has written so smartly, never made it boring. It rather feels like a superb fiction with so much of thrill and a terrific sense of humor. It will not be an exaggeration if I say that at least half of the book (200+ pages) are actually the lines written by Einstein (German translated in English) and they are simply mind-blowing. I had no idea that a guy of his caliber have that kind of sense of humor especially the way he was romantically involved with so many females, had two unsuccessful marriages and a couple of live-in’s too. The way he wrote love letters in “Physics” was totally hilarious but yet they were such poignant and meaningful reads. Who would believe if I say that he was an excellent Poet and had actually written some real good one’s to his then lovers. Hilarious is the way how he settled his divorce with his first wife and how his Nobel Prize was involved in the whole situation was a laugh out loud moment but the way he did it was commendable.
The way his entire life from childhood to graduation, his struggle for a stable job to citizenship, it all is so well covered in small chapters that it actually never gets boring. Shockingly simple life that he always lived, doesn’t even feels like we are actually talking about a giant of a man called Einstein. I guess that is the reason that it appealed so much to me and why I was able to identify with the little nuances. His kindness with strangers, the way he handled his students and kept forgetting things. He actually had to call his office once to ask his own home address as he used to forget the directions :). His accidental role in making of the Atom Bomb, his views against Nationalism and making a World Government (totally unsuccessful) was something that multiplied the respect for the man multi-folds but unfortunately he couldn’t achieve it in his life time and remained a dream. He totally didn’t like the idea of a powerless “United Nations” which gradually came out after his movement but was able to do nothing. The guy was so smart and could actually predict the future too. Imagine 70 years back someone asked him “How would you think the Third World War be fought?” to which he so aptly replies “I do not know about the third but I can tell you that Fourth will be fought by stones”. WOW!!! So damn right, he was as it will actually come true (pray not in our life-time).
The only grudge with his book that I have is the Indian connection. I don’t know where but somewhere I have seen a picture of Einstein sitting in front of the Taj Mahal. But as per this book he never came to India. Also the only Indian connection is the theory that he made in partnership with Satyendra Nath Bose which was later referred to as “Bose-Einstein Condensate”. Another mention of an Indian was the one who makes a straw hat for him taking six months time 🙂 and he used to keep a picture of Gandhiji in the later stages of his life with a picture of “Newton” that he always carried with himself. What I actually wanted to know was his views, if ever he had any on the “Theory of Evolution” by Charles Darwin, it must have been a very interesting take from the man.
Undoubtedly, this will be one of my all time favorite Biographies for sure, for a long long time to come. As I can go on and on talking about Einstein 🙂 as there is so much to talk about the man, his life, his times and Universe. I am not even getting into his achievements in Physics 🙂 as its futile. As he himself said that to a majority of the people “The Theory of Relativity” made no sense yet they all praised it and him big time :). He never believed in “chance” or “God” and always believed that “God never played Dice”. If you have read this, do let me know if you loved it the way I did and if you have not read this yet :O Boss!! Big time, you have no idea what amazing book and piece of history you are missing. And watch out for those precious pictures in the book.