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Einstein

His Life and Universe
Written by: Walter Isaacson
Narrated by: Edward Herrmann
Length: 21 hrs and 30 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (109 ratings)

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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Isaacson is the modern master of the biography, so it was only natural that he turn his pen to Einstein. And more than any biography of the past, Isaacson's account unravels the life behind the brain and provides a full picture of the man who embodied the scientific spirit of the 20th century. Edward Herrmann is stirring and moves effortlessly from humorous anecdotes to scientific theories. — Chris Doheny

Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2008 Audie Award for Biography/Memoir

How did Einstein's mind work? What made him a genius? Isaacson's biography shows how his scientific imagination sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality. His fascinating story is a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom.  

Based on the newly released personal letters of Albert Einstein, Walter Isaacson explores how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk, a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn't get a teaching job or a doctorate, became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe. His success came from questioning conventional wisdom and marveling at mysteries that struck others as mundane. This led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals.

These traits are just as vital for this new century of globalization, in which our success will depend on our creativity, as they were for the beginning of the last century, when Einstein helped usher in the modern age.

©2007 Walter Isaacson. All rights reserved (P)2007 Simon and Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.

What the critics say

  • Audie Award Winner, Biography/Memoir, 2008

"[A] lucid account." (Publishers Weekly)
"Isaacson has admirably succeeded in weaving together the complex threads of Einstein's personal and scientific life to paint a superb portrait." (Arthur I. Miller, author of Einstein, Picasso)
"Isaacson has written a crisp, engaging, and refreshing biography, one that beautifully masters the historical literature and offers many new insights into Einstein's work and life." (Diana Kormos Buchwald, General Editor of the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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enlightening

Not just brilliance, Einstein's genius was a product of his time, environment and culture #Audible1

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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great book learned a lot

Glad I bought this book a great read would recommend to anyone wanting to know more about him

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Einstein = Most Charming(2)

A touching portrayal of a complicated life beyond the that of an eminent physicist. Many life lessons to be read into current affairs.

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learned so much!

was great to listen to while drawing. really enjoyed all the primary documents sited

crazy to hear the FBI had a giant file on him that lead to nothing.

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Who would have thought.

When I saw this title, I thought for sure I was wasting my money, but something told me to go for it. A bit laborious in spots where the science was a bit out of my reach, but in general a very easy, informative listen.

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An amazing book

Whenever you know nothing or moderate amount about Einstein, you have to listen to this book. Author so skilfully ties together well know facts with intimate letters about great scientist. You get to follow Einstein’s whole life and get to know him. You get to go back to his time and get a feel of countries he lived in or visited. It’s a history book as much as an story of one person . While Einstein gives us an opportunity to see inside universe, history side shows exactly how Second World War was made possible. It’s an amazing listen and extremely well written book. I would recommend it to anyone who has any slight interest in science or The great scientist Einstein.

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informative entertaining

informative
entertaining
well presented
highly recommended
you will leave with a much richer understanding of Einstein.

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I loved the book, informative and inspirational these are the only words I need to discribe this book

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The arc of the story follows his age

Great reader, great book. It’s always great to learn about the person behind the legend. Amazing stuff. Complex, doesn’t shy away from the physics, but you’ll need to watch some supplemental youtube videos to even start to approach what’s being talked about.

Einstein’s life arc (and the interest level of the chapters) follows his age I find, the younger years are very exciting and the older years are a bit boring and repetitive.

Overall I loved exploring the edges of the known science of the university and seeing how even Einstein didn’t have it all figured out, there is so much left to explore and learn!

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Well written & balanced

Overall very good book. Well written and well balanced between Einstein's theories and life. So far, I've never been disappointed with Issacson's work.

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  • Henrik
  • 2007-04-20

Surprise: Two books in one!

This is truly a great audio book – and a steal at 1 credit. The author not only describes Einstein’s life in fantastic details – he also dedicates a fair amount of pages to the explanation of the theory of relativity. He does this surprisingly well – and in a way that makes you understand what it is all about. To this end, you can regard this title as both an Einstein biography and a “Relativity Theories for Dummies”. The narrator Edward Herrmann (as always) was a really good choice for this book. I enjoyed this book immensely – and can only urge others to download it and learn more about this incredible human being that Albert Einstein really was.

250 of 253 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2007-05-08

This is the kind of book that deserves a Pulitzer

In combining the personal and scientific story of Einstein Walter Isaacson has truly created a moving and highly entertaining biography. From his early triumphs as a Swiss patent examiner when he made his earliest breakthroughs to his quixotic quest for a "unified field theory" and his connection to the Jewish people I loved this book. If I were a Pulitzer voter I would give it a Pulitzer for biography. Edward Herrmann narrates with great care and I was able to follow the complex scientific parts with ease. If you download this book you will not be disappointed.

99 of 100 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • 2008-04-16

Amazing Story and Well Read

Although extremely long, at over 21 hours, this audio book is well written and well read. With all of the time I invested in listening, when the end came I felt as if I was saying goodbye to an old friend. Very much worth the time and effort to listen.

53 of 54 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephen
  • 2007-06-23

More than an equation

As a PhD scientist I found that the book was a tremendous blend of not only the facts of his life but also a glimpse of how different the scientific world was in the early 1900's, how the public perceived science and the breadth of Einstein's life, accomplisments and goals.

First this book gives a perspective about the man who may be the greatest scientific contributor. Brlliant in science and so human away from his theories. His intellect did not spare him from issues with women and family. He generated great loyalty from some and created life long enemies with others. His passion for sociological issues was as deep as his passion for science.

For the non physicists, this book provides the best explanation of his theories I've ever read. It very succinctly provides the principles and their applications accurately without watering it down to be meaningless.

The book tells of the comraderie amongst the most famous scientists of the day. I marvel that the interaction between Einstein and such notables as Marie Curie, Max Planck, Schroedinger (to name drop a few) communicated in such a meaningful way in a time when electricity was new! Imagine Einstein and Marie Curie's family going on vacations together!

The other fascinating thing is the interest the general public had in science at that time. Imagine that the theory of relativity was front page news in the NY Times - or that people would gather in auditoriums not for a rock concert, but to hear the results of a research project that would confirm the relativity theory!

61 of 65 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel R. Hall
  • 2008-10-16

20 hours was not enough....

Absolutely great. There were so many details that history did not seem to detail well enough, but look no further than here. You don't need to know physics to enjoy this book, but you can learn. What an incredible journey of one of the greatest minds in history.

35 of 37 people found this review helpful

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  • LB in Dallas
  • 2007-10-24

Worth the Effort Required to Read it.

I feel like I just finished a minimester crash course in Physics. Not an easy read but worth the effort for the history alone. I learned a great deal about the 1st half of the 20th century, World War 1 & 2, European Universities, political climates, Nobel politics and more. It took me a while to get through it all and I may listen to some setions again to be sure I got it all. Really interesting in the personal aspects of Einstein and the level of fame and celebrity he enjoyed while alive.

45 of 48 people found this review helpful

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  • taylor storey
  • 2014-06-05

Einstein the Impudent

Einstein was impudent. Did not respect convention. He didn't wear socks. He considered himself a human more than he was a German, a Swiss, a Jew or an American. These qualities I deeply respect about him. He was a pacifist until confronted with Hitler's extremism, who beat out Einstein as the greatest living person according to incoming Princeton freshmen in 1938 and 1939 by the way.

The way he interacted with the women in his life is not something I want to emulate. He fell in love with one of the few women scientists early on, had a few kids with her, but their relationship deteriorated. His next relationship wasn't much different. He had a lot of acquaintances with other women. Sadly I think his relationships are kind of a prototype of what seems common to many of the men and women I have interacted with in our day.

He played violin. Despite trying, he didn't get a job as a professor until 9 years after his graduation. He started out without favor from the scientific community, then became their celebrity, and then again moved out of their favor. I like that about him as well. He was his own person. He was a man of thought experiments. A theoretical Physicist. He was offered the job of being the president of Israel.

I learned a bit about science from the book as well. At least, some terms perhaps. If I had my education to live over again I might be interested in being on the cutting edge of human progress... The sentiment that Einstein had about his science reminded me of Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" emphasis on the romantic and the practical coming to meet in one person. Einstein did that. He was a romantic, feelings driven person who happened to understand the practical, technical in such a way that he could not only define it, but interact with it on a feelings level. A curiosity. He said he was not particularly talented he only possessed an insatiable curiosity.

After being caught in a storm in his sailboat he said "one feels the insignificance of the individual, and it makes one happy."

He was convinced God would not play dice as it seemed (and still seems) in quantum physics. He believed in Baruch Spinoza's conception of God...mostly as revealed in the natural world, not personal.

"Einstein’s brilliance sprang from being a rebel and nonconformist who recoiled at any attempt to restrain his free expression."

This book has got me interested again in World War 2 affairs. It is so astonishing to me that Hitler was so popular. In addition to the Princeton Freshmen, Time Magazine called him the person of the year in 1938. The story that the victors tell history is very true here. I realized that I have no idea why the world fought that war. It is my impression that people have to be really mad and really frustrated to go to war. And I think the perception of Hitler I was given was one that was told by the victors. The victors who had previously thought he was one of the best people ever. There is something missing in my understanding.

29 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Pita
  • 2015-02-01

Entertaining, illustrating, great listen!

Would you consider the audio edition of Einstein to be better than the print version?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although I listened to it and did not read it, I am quite sure that the excellent narration added to the great experience that this book turned out to be.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Without a doubt, the subject of the biography, who was quite a special being although quite human and imperfect. We get to make the acquientance of some of the other luminaries of the world of science and politics through the book. We also meet the women in his life whom he did not always treat as well as he could have. I was very surprised to learn that regardless of his eccentricities, Einstein was quite a magnet to the opposite sex.

Which scene was your favorite?

There are many memorable scenes in Einstein's remarkable life. This was a book of "great thoughts" rather than scenes. Einstein's way of seeing the world and how it was central to his contributions to humanity was what interested me most going into this book and the biographer did an excellent job in describing something so elusive.

Any additional comments?

Be prepared for passages on relativity and quantum physics that are perhaps a bit more detailed than some would prefer. One must say that the author did a superlative job at explaining both, at least at a level that would help the reader appreciate the complexity of both principles and how they remain revolutionary today.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Sam Motes
  • 2013-11-24

Brilliant scientist struggling with world events

A beautiful read into the life and intellectual struggles of Einstein as he dealt with personal issues and world events. Isaacson truly does a brilliant job of pulling no punches and pulling the reader into the struggles Einstein went through as a Jewish intellectual in Nazi Germany and then the patriotic vigor of pushing the US to invest the time and energy to build the bomb to beat the German's to it and then the moral struggling he dealt with living with the realization that helped in the slaughter of millions of people. One of the best biographies I have ever read.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Gary
  • 2012-05-27

I don't like biographies, but I loved this one

I was reluctant to listen to this book because I don't like biographies. I'm glad I broke my rule. The author explains the physics of Einstein (from quantum theory to general relativity) better than almost any other popular physics book. It's really the definitive biography of Einstein because the author had access to letters which none of the other biographers have had till now. The book can be read by those who love a good biography of an interesting person and for those who what to learn about the physics. After having read this book, I can fully understand why Steve Jobs picked the author to write his biography.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • François
  • 2019-06-18

An impactful story of an man worthy of remenbrance

I knew Einstein, but after listening to this book, I can say that I did not know anything about him.
He changed physics, had a healthy lifestyle, and was an sweet man. This guy would have had some serious followers on Twitter !