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Einstein: His Life and Universe

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  150,250 ratings  ·  3,724 reviews
Einstein was a rebel and nonconformist from boyhood days, and these character traits drove both his life and his science. In this narrative, Walter Isaacson explains how his mind worked and the mysteries of the universe that he discovered.
Hardcover, 675 pages
Published April 10th 2007 by Simon Schuster
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Zunaira Giggles This book makes you appreciate the universe and peace in a way that I think is often blind sighted by the hyper-informed society we live in with vario…moreThis book makes you appreciate the universe and peace in a way that I think is often blind sighted by the hyper-informed society we live in with various constant news media channels highlighting every incident as if it is the end of humanity.(less)
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 ·  150,250 ratings  ·  3,724 reviews

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Aug 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this book primarily because of my fiance's interest in Einstein's life and theories. I thought it might help me to actually have a somewhat intelligent reply on the rare occasion he starts talking physics (don't tell him I said so, but he is much smarter than I am). :)

I felt a bit daunted by the length of it at first (700 pages, or 22 hours on 18 CDs), but the book is engrossing from the start. The periodic and quite detailed descriptions of Einstein's theories and research wer
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite picture books that I saved from childhood is called Albert Einstein by Ibi Lepscky. It's the story of Albert as a child, showing him as quiet and absentminded, and preferring to play the violin rather than roughhouse with other boys in the neighborhood. It also tells the story of when Albert had a fever and had to stay in bed, his father gave him a compass. Albert became fascinated by the needle and asked so many thoughtful questions about the magnetic fields and the poles of ...more
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1935, a rabbi in Princeton showed him a clipping of the Ripley’s column with the headline “Greatest Living Mathematician Failed in Mathematics.” Einstein laughed. “I never failed in mathematics,” he replied correctly. “Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus.”

In fact, he was a wonderful student, at least intellectually. In primary school, he was at the top of his class. “Yesterday Albert got his grades,” his mother reported to an aunt when he was 7. “Once aga
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
here's a letter a young einstein wrote to his pal.
the 1st paragraph: more waugh than egghead, eh?
and that 2nd paragraph?
those 'papers'?
"a modification of the theory of space and time"?
holy shit.

Dear Habicht,

Such a solemn air of silence has descended between us that I almost feel as if I am committing a sacrilege when I break it now with some inconsequential babble. So, what are you up to, you frozen whale, you smoked, dried, canned piece of soul? Why have you still not sent me your dissertat
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A superb biography of Albert Einstein! Walter Isaacson paints here the portrait of this inescapable rebel genius whose private and public lives cannot be analyzed without each other.
Rich illustrations, personal Einstein documents, unpublished information! Great sensitivity. Fascinating!
Nov 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My brother-in-law recommended this biography in 2007. It is one of the most incredible books I’ve read in a long time. There are eleven pages of sources alone! This book is meticulously researched, beautifully written, fascinating, inspiring, and wonderful on every level. It’s 551 pages long, and I so did not want this book to end!

Isaacson immerses us in a detailed, in depth probing of Einstein’s life – personal, intellectual, scientific, political, and cultural - against a backdrop of the histo
B Schrodinger
So I 've had a love/hate with Einstein for a few years now. I recognised the great work that he did regarding General and Special Relativity, the Photoelectric Effect and Brownian Motion - brilliant stuff.

But why does Einstein get wheeled out for every portrayal of a great scientist? Why does everyone feel the need to quote the guy regarding religion, education, happiness, sociology....everything? This really annoyed me - and I guess it still does.

In an education lecture a few weeks ago the lec
The book wasn’t amazing, but the man certainly was. Don’t get me wrong; I really liked the book, and it is one I would recommend to all those readers who want to meet an intelligent, wonderful, honest, humble person. I am not calling him great for what he did for science, but for the kind of person he was. He will appeal to those of you who like non-conformists, people with imagination and curiosity. He is one of those few adults who manage to keep alive a child’s delight in the world around the ...more
I decided to read this partly on the strength of another of the author’s biographies, that of Steve Jobs, which I read before joining GR and which I thought was fascinating. I was hoping this book would be as good but in the event I didn’t enjoy it as much. Looking at the other ratings, I seem to be in a minority, but I can only give my honest reaction.

I imagine most people interested enough to read a biography of Einstein will already be aware of his annus mirabilis of 1905, when he published a
Andrej Karpathy
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was my second read of an Einstein biography, this time by Isaacson. Coming from Isaacson, the book is well-written and seemed very thoroughly researched. Overall a great read, but if I had to complain my biggest issue is that the emphasis was not allocated very well. For instance, a huge portion of the book is devoted to Einstein’s personal life, reading through his correspondence with his love interests. It’s interesting for a while, but after some point I thought we were intruding a littl ...more
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
A while back I had tried to read Walter Isaacson's biography on Benjamin Franklin, but just couldn't get through it because the author mired everything down in pointless details. Despite that, I decided to give his more recent book about famed theoretical physicist Albert Einstein a try. If it turned out to be boring, I'd just drop it. Turned out, I loved it.

What I loved about Isaacon's book here is the way it delicately balances three aspects: the life of Einstein from a strictly biographical a
Michael Finocchiaro
On the suggestion of my friend Al, I acquired and recently finished the recent Einstein biography by Walter Isaacson. He also wrote one on Franklin which I will read soon as well. As for the Einstein biography, it is about 550 pages long follow by 90 pages of footnotes and references and 50 pages of index. It covers his life and attempts to explain some of his theories. I found that the first half about his childhood and momentous discoveries in 1905 was exciting. I hadn’t realized that most of ...more
Jason Koivu
Dec 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Einstein: His Life and Universe is but a mere pinch of Einstein's theories mixed in with a modest helping of his life. The brevity was too my taste as I was only in the mood for a tiny taste of Einstein bio. Too much of the genuis' theory is liable to give me brain-freeze, so this was perfect. And done just the way I like it, tight and to the point. ...more
This is an incredibly well researched, detailed account of all aspects of Einstein's life, personal, scientific and political that I can highly recommend to anybody interested. I learned heaps I didn't know and had the record set straight on a number of points, mainly regarding Einstein's political views, how they changed over time and his level of support for setting up the Manhattan Project.

I read the book with a specific research agenda, which was to independently form an opinion as to whethe
Arvind Iyer
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marvelous!!. The book provides insight into Einstein's mind, his views on various aspects of life, science, relationships, and GOD. Walter Issacson does an incredible job of explaining the scientific concepts in a simpler language that can be understood to a non-science person. Overall, a very enjoyable, engaging, and an important read. This book needs to read if you want to know what went into the making of a legend ALBERT EINSTEIN. Strongly Recommended. ...more
Alex Telander
Nov 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
EINSTEIN: HIS LIFE AND UNIVERSE BY WALTER ISAACSON: Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, takes biography writing to a whole new level with Einstein: His Life and Universe. This isn’t just the story of Albert Einstein from birth until death; Isaacson escorts the reader on a unique journey through the mind of Einstein, as well as through the eyes of his friends and family; along the way one becomes so close and understanding of the man of the twentieth century it is as i ...more
Jan 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You'll know Albert like your own grandfather after reading this. This book covers the complete life of Albert Einstein, from his childhood (he never did fail a math test) and early attraction to science and math to his love life, his children, his education, his employment, his many great theories and discoveries, his relationship with all of his famous peers, his rise to public fame, his sincere beliefs in freedom from oppression, 2 world wars, his role with the bomb, and his life in the US. An ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
People ask the question all the time, "If you could have dinner with someone, living or dead, who would it be?"

My new answer (probably not who you're thinking):


Not only would Isaacson bring one of greatest thinkers (the good sir Albert Einstein) to the table, he'd also be able to conjure visionaries like Da Vinci (next queued audiobook), Benjamin Franklin, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk. He'd regale funny anecdotes and character quirks as if he were speaking about a personal friend,
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Einstein was a great read - I gained a new appreciation for Einstein as a person and his scientific world. In the beginning of the book, I didn't know quite what to think of Einstein. I couldn't tell if he possessed great confidence or if he crossed over to being arrogant, and I wasn't impressed with how he handled his personal relationships. However, as the book went on, I gained an appreciation for his thirst for knowledge, his independent thinking, confidence, determination, and even kindness ...more
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world”

This is the second biography I read by Walter Isaacson which is why I already was familiar with his excruciating love for details. His research has as expected impressive range and rather than just being told what Einstein did when and why, you are basically offered a psychological profile and analysis of the man. And just as with Steve Jobs you realize that Einstein was anything but a simple per
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, science
Everyone knows Albert Einstein--smart man, came up with E+MC2, helped create the atomic bomb--but I didn't know much beyond the hype. That's why I picked up Walter Isaacson's award winning book Einstein: His Life and Universe (Simon and Schuster 2007). I like to read about smart people. What's different about how they think than other people? Can they relate to ordinary people? Where do they get the amazing ideas they come up with?

As often as not, brilliant people become criminals as successes l
TS Chan
Sep 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this did take me quite a while to finish, I do like it a lot. I just dragged through this over a period as at some point it started to feel a bit dry, but that was more from my state of mind as this was not an easy book to digest.

A bit of history about me and Einstein, not that I know him personally of course! Back in high school, I loved books so much that I was a school librarian. I also had a very early interest in science which was instilled by my father who actually bought me a set o
Morgan Blackledge
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great writing.

Great story telling.




Very satisfying.

Leaves you feeling awestruck by his genius, inspired by his tenacity, grit and fearless outspokenness, consternated by his ridiculous hypocrisy, aghast at his shameless philandering, and ultimately in love with this deeply flawed but uniquely brilliant human.
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Here's a chance to become more intimately acquainted with an exceptional life that straddles both world wars, a biography that introduces the reader to the histories of England, Germany, Switzerland, England, Israel, Italy and Japan in relation to both conflicts .

The pre & post war economies, businesses, and careers possible as described here seem a world away from today. Seeing them from the perspective of Einsteins life, his family's ups and downs , and the way they separate colleagues, coupl
Apr 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
I have read several biographies of Einstein and this is certainly the best. It is also exhaustive, 3 times the size of any of the others.
I especially enjoyed the quite detailed coverage of Einsteins's trials and tribulations during the 10 years he labored mightily to extend his theory of special relativity to his masterpiece of general relativity.
The author includes a great deal of coverage of Einstein's efforts to promote his idea of the need for a world governing body that would have all the m
May 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical-read
This is a well researched account of all aspects of Einstein's life. The writing was just okay, sometimes it was dry, repetitive and hard to follow. There was a lot of physics, and some sections just went over my head. Prior to reading this book, my knowledge of Einstein was limited to his theories of relativity learnt in school. It was interesting to get a better sense of his life. Once I became more familiar with his personality, I didn't admire him nearly as much as I thought I would. All tol ...more
Peter Tieryas
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Nothing short of a masterpiece that will make you rethink not only Einstein, but science and existence. Fascinating book. Will write more soon.


Just started, pretty awesome so far.
Liza Fireman
May 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
I never wrote a review for Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. If I would it would could be summarized by, very interesting life, very intriguing man, very long biography, could be cut in half, maybe even a bit more. Maybe I could add, that Steve wasn't a comfortable person, even if a genius, and that too could be said about Einstein. All the above works for this biography. At some point, I just couldn't wait for it to be over (and over and over again).

Maybe I should start by saying that I greatly en
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Taking a brief sojourn from the world of political biographies, I chose to tackle another of Walter Isaacson's collection, this time focussing on prized scientist Albert Einstein. While the general public is well-versed in some of the better known aspects of Einstein's life, there is much that helped shape him, even outside his scientific endeavours, that is of great interest to the reader. Isaacson pens another wonderful biography, in which he portrays Einstein in three distinct lights: the qui ...more
Quintin Zimmermann
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A meticulously researched biography on the flawed man behind the genius.

Albert Einstein as a young man turned the world of science on its head by casting off established conventions and boldly following initiative leaps of logic and reasoning that defied the established order.

It was actually a rather long journey that he followed, much derided by the academic community who for a long time failed to recognise his genius, or perhaps his genius was not so much in the maths, but in his thought exp
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best biography of Einstein? 1 5 Aug 16, 2020 07:44PM  
Perseverance and self-belief are traits of great man 3 28 Apr 06, 2019 08:07PM  
Audiobook 2 9 May 22, 2018 07:59PM  
Screen & Page: Einstein 1 3 Jun 03, 2017 08:33AM  
Science Book Club: Einstein: His Life and Universe 2 22 May 03, 2017 06:28AM  
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Walter Isaacson, a professor of history at Tulane, has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chair of CNN, and editor of Time. He is the author of 'Leonardo da Vinci; The Innovators; Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. Visit him at and on T ...more

Articles featuring this book

  Walter Isaacson, it’s safe to say, is not afraid of tackling the really big topics. In 2011, he wrote about our ubiquitous computer culture...
113 likes · 21 comments
“The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think, he [Einstein] said.” 34 likes
“To dwell on the things that depress or anger us does not help in overcoming them. One must knock them down alone.” 28 likes
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