On the anniversary of his birth, a handful of books honoring Albert Einstein

Hands down, Albert Einstein was THE giant of the twentieth century, and so it’s only appropriate and expected that scholars and laypersons alike would continue to celebrate his life, work, and legacy in books, films, and other works well into the twenty-first century. No slouches here at JHU Press, we’ve been publishing books about Einstein for years. For your enjoyment and edification, here are a handful that do us all a service in understanding the contributions this genius gave the world.


Einstein’s Jewish Science: Physics at the Intersection of Politics and Religion
Steven Gimbel

Called “a fascinating engagement with the nature of Judaism and of science” by Rabbi Michael Lerner and named finalist for the 2012 Gerrard and Ella Berman Memorial Award, Steven Gimbel’s provocative book turns the Nazi’s anti-Einstein propaganda on its head to explore whether relativity itself is Jewish.

“Gimbel is an engaging writer . . . he takes readers on enlightening excursions through the nature of Judaism, Hegelian philosophy, wherever his curiosity leads.”—George Johnson, New York Times

“In this wide-ranging exploration, Gimbel . . . seeks to discover whether and to what extent Einstein’s work could legitimately be called ‘Jewish’ and what difference it makes.”—Publishers Weekly

“Gimbel spins out what could have been a mere provocation into a wide-ranging and entertaining collision of science, history, philosophy, and religion.”—Zocalo Public Square

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Einstein’s Berlin: In the Footsteps of a Genius
Dieter Hoffman

Lured by a top academic position sponsored by the Prussian Academy of Sciences, Albert Einstein moved from Zurich to Berlin in 1914 and lived there until 1932, just weeks before Hitler became chancellor of Germany. During this fraught economic and political time, Einstein developed the general theory of relativity, gained worldwide fame, supported democratic, socialist, pacifist, and Zionist causes, and withstood the growing ire of ultranationalists. With a foreword by Nobel Prize winner Walter Kohn, Einstein’s Berlin combines narrative, maps, and period photographs to tell this story in the form of a sophisticated, annotated city guide, allowing readers and travelers to follow the physicist’s footsteps throughout Berlin.

“A wonderful guidebook for the intellectual tourist deeply interested in Einstein. Nothing this detailed exists, and it is a wonderful complement to the literature on Einstein. The scholarship is superb and the information is absolutely fascinating.”—Catherine Westfall, Michigan State University


The Practical Einstein: Experiments, Patents, Inventions
József Illy

A 2012 Choice magazine Outstanding Academic Title, The Practical Einstein shows that the common vision of Einstein as the out-of-this-world, wire-haired whacky physicist who gave us the theory of relativity is just one facet of this genius’s contribution to human knowledge and modern science. An inveterate tinkerer, Einstein contributed to many inventions, including refrigerators, microphones, and instruments for aviation. He also delved deeply into a variety of technological innovations—most notably the gyrocompass—consulted for industry in patent cases and on other legal matters, and provided explanations for common and mundane phenomena, such as the meandering of rivers.

“A lesser-known aspect of Einstein’s incredible contribution to understanding the physical universe and human creations makes up the subject of this fascinating book . . . In this compact, readable account, one discovers Einstein’s practical interests that lay beyond his seminal work in relativity and quantum physics . . . Highly recommended.”—Choice


Einstein: A Biography
Jürgen Neffe
translated by Shelley Frisch

Hailed as “a splendid biography of physics’ most luminous supernova” by Kirkus Reviews and said to read “like an American novel” by the San Diego Union Tribune, Jürgen Neffe’s look at Einstein’s life takes a completely new approach to the man, giving readers an intimate look at his life and work. Drawing on newly unearthed documents, including a series of letters from Einstein to his sons, Neffe debunks popular stereotypes and explains Einstein’s scientific achievements clearly, creating a rich psychological portrait of a man whose character has too often been lost in the bright glow of celebrity.

“[Einstein’s] are some of the most powerful ideas in all of science . . . Neffe does an especially thorough job tracing their origins in Einstein’s early obsessions, and he shows how completely the latest cosmic theories are constructed atop the general theory of relativity.”—New York Times Book Review

“You would never know you were reading a translation. Converted into evocative, idiomatic English by Shelley Frisch, the book abandons the traditional chronological framework to make oblique swipes across Einstein’s timeline—like those bullets flying through a train.”—Los Angeles Times

“Coupling insights into Einstein’s character with clear descriptions of the physicist’s groundbreaking research, Neffe creates a fascinating portrait of… one of the most intriguing figures of the 20th century.”—Publishers Weekly