Einstein: Visionary Scientist by John B. Severance;
Clarion Books: New York, 1999; $15
To most kids, Einstein: Visionary Scientist would seem like “a book about some dead guy whose ideas I don’t understand.” At first, I was too busy thinking about writing this review to have any opinion on this book. Once I was into the book, I forgot about the review and enjoyed the story immensely.
I was surprised to discover that Albert was a slow learner, and that he had a ferocious temper. This was something I could relate to. When I was in elementary school I lagged behind the others in my class. My frustration lead me to have a bad temper. However, my temper was pint-sized compared to Albert’s tantrums. Once, he just missed his sister Maja with a bowling ball. Another time, he hit his sister with the handle of a garden hoe. Even on my worst days, I never threw a bowling ball.
Something I didn’t know was that Albert took violin lessons. I took violin lessons too, but I never had a lesson like Albert’s. On his first lesson he threw a chair at his teacher. That nasty disposition again!
Two other things about Albert’s education surprised me. One, he was a dreamy student. He was oblivious to the world around him and was lost in his own scientific thoughts. I also am like that sometimes, I get lost in my own world. The other was that he flunked all of his subjects except math and physics. I was amazed because I thought that smart people were good in everything. Albert’s principal once said, “It doesn’t matter how we teach him, he’ll never amount to anything anyway.” He was obviously wrong!
Another way that Albert and I are alike: we both like to write papers on our ideas. Years later when he was at the peak of his popularity, he would tour all over, and speak of his theories he had written about. I found it interesting that he was booed at some lectures; I guess there were people who just didn’t understand his ideas.
I don’t totally agree with Albert’s pacifist views. I enjoy studying about war and the armed forces. I think the reason for this difference is that he was a Jew during Hitler’s reign over Europe, whereas I have never been that close to war and have always known freedom.
The author, John B. Severance, did a remarkable job of making Einstein’s difficult ideas understandable. If you had to do a school project on a famous scientist, this would be an excellent reference book to use. It demonstrates that although this is a book about the smartest guy in the world, you, too, can understand Albert Einstein.
This is a really great book that I’d recommend to anyone, especially if you’ve ever been misunderstood or not liked. It shows you that even if you are picked on or put down, as long as you keep trying you will never be a failure. Who knows, you might be the next smartest person in history.