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.
David E. Rowe is professor of the history of mathematics and natural sciences at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, and a former member of the Einstein Papers Project. Robert Schulmann, a former Boston University history professor, is former head of the Einstein Papers Project. He coedited Albert Einstein, Mileva Marić: The Love Letters and many volumes of the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein (all Princeton).
"A goldmine for readers interested in Einstein as an engaged intellectual of his era. Editors David E. Rowe and Robert Schulmann have done an excellent job of collecting, thematically assembling and historically contextualizing Einstein's private letters and public statements on the great political issues of his time."--Yaron Ezrahi, Nature
"Editors David E. Rowe and Robert Schulmann have done an excellent job of collecting, thematically assembling and historically contextualizing Einstein's private letters and public statements on the great political issues of his time. The book is also a fascinating record of Einstein's private thoughts and public stance on the reception of the relativity revolution. Included here are his reaction to the virulent anti-Semitic, anti-relativity German scientists, his tortured relations with the Prussian Academy of Sciences after the rise of the Nazis and his later expressed identification with Galileo for his struggle 'to overcome the anthropocentric and mythical thinking of his contemporaries and to lead them back to an objective and causal attitude towards the cosmos.'"--C. R. Macauley, Nature
"Einstein on Politics treats all these issues in detail by combining his most important statements--both public and private--in thematic chapters and by carefully contextualizing each statement. The result is fascinating, illuminating and sometimes moving, resonating both with today's noisy debates about nuclear weapons, international terrorism and civil liberties, and with the ethical dilemmas with which we struggle in the quieter recesses of the mind."--Andrew Robinson, New Scientist
Table of Contents:
List of Texts vii
Note on Sources and Method xxxi
Historical Introduction 1
Chapter 1. The First World War and Its Impact, 1914-1921 61
Chapter 2. Science Meets Politics: The Relativity Revolution, 1918-1923 93
Chapter 3. Anti-Semitism and Zionism, 1919-1930 136
Chapter 4. Internationalism and European Security, 1922-1932 189
Chapter 5. Articles of Faith, 1930-1933 223
Chapter 6. Hitler's Germany and the Threat to European Jewry, 1933-1938 266
Chapter 7. The Fate of the Jews, 1939-1949 315
Chapter 8. The Second World War, Nuclear Weapons, and World Peace, 1939-1950 356
Chapter 9. Soviet Russia, Political Economy, and Socialism, 1918-1952 406
Chapter 10. Political Freedom and the Threat of Nuclear War, 1931-1955 459
Plate Credits 524
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Albert Einstein:
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by John Stachel: