Cover image for Einstein : visionary scientist
Einstein : visionary scientist
Severance, John B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Clarion Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
144 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1130 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 9.0 4.0 45681.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.5 7 Quiz: 20294 Guided reading level: NR.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QC16.E5 S394 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



Albert Einstein expanded the way we understand our universe and helped create a framework for modern physics with his groundbreaking theory of relativity. In this detailed and well-balanced biography, illustrated with exceptional archival photographs, John B. Severance recounts Einstein's life from his privileged childhood and disappointing early career to his later recognition as one of the most respected and beloved scientists of this century. The author identifies Einstein's complex theories and makes clear why his ideas are still the basis of work by today's top physicists. He also reveals many of Einstein's inner complexities and eccentricities, exploring the personal and public controversies that followed him throughout his life. What emerges is a picture of a brilliant, compassionate, yet imperfect man whose remarkable theories gave the world an enormous push into the future.

Author Notes

Formerly a school teacher, John B. Severance now writes full time. He lives in Savannah, Georgia.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-12. Einstein's life was marked by contrasts: he was intellectually bold but emotionally diffident, a pacifist who supported the Allies, and a devoted husband (the second time) who was all but estranged from his children. Severance follows these conflicting trails, showing his subject as he moves from failing student to pioneering researcher, from scientific novelty to icon. The author valiantly reports Einstein's movement up the academic ladder and adequately describes his theories, but he's most successful when he addresses Einstein's celebrity. As the scientist's revolutionary ideas gained acceptance among colleagues, they began to be (mis)reported in the daily papers. It wasn't long before people who didn't understand a thing he said were filling lecture halls to hear him speak. Researchers will find this a helpful resource, though the lack of documentation and vague attributions will limit their ability to dig deeper. A chronology and a bibliography are included. --Randy Meyer

Publisher's Weekly Review

Severance, whose previous biographies focused on men of social and political action (Gandhi; Thomas Jefferson), here does a commendable job of conveying both the complicated ideas that revolutionized the study of physics and the life of the thinker behind them. Opening with a discussion of Einstein's place in the history of science, the narrative then shifts to a chronological account of Einstein's life, discussing his difficulties in school, his groundbreaking early theoretical papers (published before he had even earned his Ph.D.), his work as a professor and researcher, and the fame that dogged his later years. Throughout this account of his professional work, Severance weaves in less-flattering details of Einstein's personal lifeÄhis fathering of an out-of-wedlock child; his estrangement and divorce from his first wife; his second marriage, in which he often acted more like a child than a husbandÄand touches upon lesser-known aspects of the scientist's public life, such as his pacifism (setting the record straight about the fact that he was "never directly involved" with creating the atomic bomb) and his involvement in the Zionist movement. Severance's writing occasionally stumbles (e.g., "The political scene of 1933 indicated that Einstein's days in Europe were numbered"), and he has difficulty giving readers a sense of what Einstein was like as a person rather than just as a thinker. Otherwise, this is a solid introduction to the life and times of one of the 20th century's most innovative minds. Age 10-14. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6 Up-Chronicling the life of one of science's greatest minds, this book follows Einstein's life from his birth in Germany through his childhood in Austria to his death at Princeton. In an inviting, easy-to-read format, the text covers not only the scientist's professional career, but also includes a substantial amount of information on his personal life. Einstein is depicted as a brilliant man often frustrated and distracted by the people and events around him. The well-chosen, black-and-white photographs complement the printed matter, as do the numerous reminiscences and quotes from Einstein's friends and family. Severance does a superb job of relating the historical events of World War II and conveying how strongly they affected Einstein's views and work. While acknowledging that a good background in mathematics and physics is needed to completely understand Einstein's concepts of space-time, the author makes the theories comprehensible and accessible to general readers and offers students a valuable tool for reports. A balanced and thorough look at a visionary and his place in history.-Maren Ostergard, Bellevue Regional Library, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.