Passion was behind Einstein ideas, a simmering passion that can not be contained by the complexity of his sentences. And of all ideas he felt strongly about, war or rather the argument against it is the one he obviously had at the forefront of his mind.
He expressed his optimism that younger generation might learn from history and past mistakes when it came to war but you also sense his resignation that human nature might not fulfill the height of optimistic aspirations.
He was a consummate optimist, the kind of optimism only invincible 20 year olds are seemingly capable of. And yet he was not devoid of the knowledge that obstacles were in the horizon or that there were other matters beyond; if anything, he was one of the few who could correctly identify said obstacles and put things into perspective.
It was a fascinating read. Here was a person who saw things as they were, was not going to let reality defeat him and was prepared to study the problems and come up with workable solutions.
Moreover, he was not only prepared, he was eager. I had always imagine Einstein to be a curious cat, a trait I fancy we shared, and was satisfied to find that he was indeed a curious person. There were many great quotes in the book referencing curiosity, one of them is this:
The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.
It was also reassuring to see that Einstein held art in the same regard he did science. So many people claim to be logically inclined and dismiss art as inferior to science, as if such stance confirms their intelligence.
There was a letter in which he addressed a question about God, which approached the topic in a way I feel a lot of us could find common ground.
He talked of art and music — the way older generation everywhere had talked about current music, which was rather amusing, as apparently Einstein was not immune to the GET OUT OF MY LAWN phenomenon.
He was shown to criticize the media a few times, one instance an anecdote of his own status as celebrity, the other the many instances where the media, in his view, created a frenzy to serve the interests of a few at the expense of the masses.
This led to the topic of war and his effort to encourage serious talk regarding the abolition of same. I found some of these passages to be somewhat naive and I felt bad that I wanted to say, “I told you so,” when his effort fell through and he then had to disassociate himself with organization.
It was not the failure to meet their objectives that caused him to let go of the organization, however. At this point, WWII was approaching and trouble was brewing in Germany, making Einstein feel that the country was no longer home. This was followed by essays on Jewry, another proposal to bring the community in Palestina together and a final thought on Christianity and Judaism.
Initially I thought the book would be fascinating because I wondered how exactly a scientist saw this world, especially a scientist like Einstein. It turned out to be much more than that because it was about a curious person with a capable intellect and an open mind filled with wonder and how he saw the world.
I have always maintained that the most interesting thing about the world is the human beings and I went into this book looking for the human being that was Albert Einstein and I was not disappointed.