Three Stars out of Five
By this collection of essays, letters and articles Albert Einstein sought in 1934 introduced himself to the world beyond academia and the headlines. Though he was then fifty years old, the Einstein we find here brims with youthful hope and enthusiasm. Of Jewish linage, he was an agnostic, socialist pacifist (such labels seem so inadequate).
Of particular interest to readers today is how some of his ideals seem current while others are so out-of-date as to seem quaint. “The man who regards his own life and that of his fellow-creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life.” “We exist for our fellow men.” He didn’t believe in God, but admitted to a “cosmic religious feeling” which maintained was “the strongest and noblest incitement to scientific research.” He opposed nationalism but was a Zionist. He hoped that reasonable men could step beyond nationalism and achieve world peace. He renounced his German citizenship in 1933 upon Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.
This small volume contains many nuggets of wisdom and not a few chuckles for the reader with the benefit of eighty years of hindsight.
Unfortunately, this volume omits “essays by Einstein on relativity and cognate subject” because the editors fear readers unable to understand them.
Some of his views changed a lot in the following decade. World War Two did that to lots of folks.