Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson – A Review

December 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , )

Title: Einstein: His Life and Universe

Author: Walter Isaacson

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Genre: Non-fiction, Biography, Science

Length: 675 pgs.

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Albert Einstein was a prick.  Not the description you were expecting?  Me neither.  We always hear about how brilliant he was, how much he changed humanity and the world of science with his great theories.  We always see images of his goofy, yet charmingly wild smile and hair.  We don’t see him through the eyes of the family he abandoned.

Isaacson is thorough in his research and the language of his biography of Einstein is easy and accessible.  He sheds a lot of light on physics formulas that I had a hard time grasping in my high school science classes.  But he also sheds a lot of light on Einstein the not-so-family man.

Not only did he and his wife abandon their first child, a girl who history has nearly erased,

“[Hans Albert, Einstein’s son] had powerfully conflicted attitudes towards his father.  That was no surprise.  Einstein was intense and compelling and at times charismatic.  He was also aloof and distracted and had distanced himself, physically and emotionally, from the boy, who was guarded by a doting mother who felt humiliated.”

Einstein eventually divorced his wife, but not before maintaining an emotional affair with his cousin Elsa.  “Companionship without commitment suited him just fine,” Isaacson writes about how Einstein toyed with both women’s heartstrings by alternating his attentions between them.  In the end Einstein and Elsa did marry, but not before a questionable letter was written by Elsa’s daughter to a friend that mentioned Einstein’s true love interest was the twenty year old daughter, not the mother.

Isaacson’s presentation of Einstein is a great book for high school science and history students.  Anyone trying to understand the genius’s formulas should also understand the history surrounding their creation/discovery.  His life is also one to discuss with your teen touchy topics of worldview and the importance of values; world changing discovery vs. the importance of family, political and religious affiliations and observations.  Each family’s opinion of Einstein’s life will most likely be different, and its one that should be surveyed and critically analyzed.

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A Book Review: TumTum & Nutmeg by Emily Bearn

November 17, 2011 at 7:46 pm (Reviews) (, , , )

Title: TumTum & Nutmeg
Author: Emily Bearn
Available from Egmont
Genre: Children’s fiction
180 pages from Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Little, Brown
Please visit: http://www.tumtumandnutmeg.co.uk/index.htm

     In the broom cupboard of a small dwelling called Rose Cottage, stands a house fit for a mouse – well, two mice actually. A house made of pebblestone, with gables on the windows and turrets peeking out of the roof. A house with a ballroom, a billiard room, a banqueting room, a butler’s room and a drawing room. The house belongs to Mr and Mrs Nutmouse, or Tumtum and Nutmeg as they affectionately call each other.
Tumtum and Nutmeg have a wonderful life but the children who live in Rose Cottage, Arthur and Lucy, are miserable. So, one day Tumtum and Nutmeg decide to cheer them up…
Tumtum repairs the electric heater in the attic where the children sleep and Nutmeg darns the children’s clothes. Arthur and Lucy are delighted and think a Fairy of Sorts is looking after them.
But then Aunt Ivy with her green eyelids and long, elasticey arms arrives. She hates mice and hatches a plan to get rid of them. Soon Tumtum and Nutmeg are no longer safe to venture out…
Tumtum and Nutmeg is a miniature masterpiece that will be loved by generations to come.

– Summary by Egmont

I picked up TumTum & Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall at Half Price Books in Humble, TX a few months back, with the intention of reading the stories to my daughter one day. I had never heard of them, but the front cover looked delightful and reminded me of the childhood days I spent pouring over The Borrowers by Mary Norton.

My daughter just turned one this last month and tired of re-reading every Eric Carle and Marcus Pfister book we own, I decided to see if she could sit through a few pages of Emily Bearn. I thought, maybe we can at least make it to the first illustration.

Low and behold, we were both captivated. I read until she fell asleep, and despite this book being written for very small children, I found I couldn’t put it down and wanted to know what would happen next. I was five years old again, huddled up in a quilt, lost in a world of a little family living in the nooks and crannies of an old house.

TumTum & Nutmeg is wonderful. It is precious in its descriptions and histories, the story is sweet and adventurous, enriching and exciting. I cannot wait to read the additional stories in the compilation and with sheer joy anticipate re-reading this story to my daughter when she is old enough to follow the story and not just my voice. This should be a part of every child’s library.

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