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Synopsis

The most famous scientist of the twentieth century, Albert Einstein was also one of the century's most outspoken political activists. Deeply engaged with the events of his tumultuous times, from the two world wars and the Holocaust, to the atomic bomb and the Cold War, to the effort to establish a Jewish homeland, Einstein was a remarkably prolific political writer, someone who took courageous and often unpopular stands against nationalism, militarism, anti-Semitism, racism, and McCarthyism. In Einstein on Politics, leading Einstein scholars David Rowe and Robert Schulmann gather Einstein's most important public and private political writings and put them into historical context. The book reveals a little-known Einstein--not the ineffectual and naïve idealist of popular imagination, but a principled, shrewd pragmatist whose stands on political issues reflected the depth of his humanity.

Nothing encapsulates Einstein's profound involvement in twentieth-century politics like the atomic bomb. Here we read the former militant pacifist's 1939 letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt warning that Germany might try to develop an atomic bomb. But the book also documents how Einstein tried to explain this action to Japanese pacifists after the United States used atomic weapons to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki, events that spurred Einstein to call for international control of nuclear technology.

A vivid firsthand view of how one of the twentieth century's greatest minds responded to the greatest political challenges of his day, Einstein on Politics will forever change our picture of Einstein's public activism and private motivations.

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