Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Einstein File: J. Edgar Hoover's Secret War Against the World's Most Famous Scientist by Fred Jerome

Wow! what an eye opener of a book. If you thought, Einstein was welcomed into US with open arms and was accorded everything, read this book. As much as US and it's common people loved this brilliant scientist, there was a group of powerful people, under the paranoia of communist infiltration of US institutions, thought this gentle scientist was a communist spy. They did not just stop there. They spent a lot of resources and energy to see if they could nail Einstein as a communist spy.

This book is truly one of its kind. After FBI released secret files on Einstein a while back under freedom of information act, the author Jerome systematically poured over thousands and thousands of pages of documentation compiled on Einstein and came up with this nice book which is an eye-opener.

Einstein moved to US in 1930s from his native Germany after Hitler became powerful there and made life difficult for jews. Einstein was also a jew. By 1930s, Einstein was a household name in the scientific community. He had won Nobel prize in 1921. He was regularly coming to US as a guest professor at many leading universities. So, when things got hot for him and his family in the US, it was only natural that he looked at US for his next home.

Einstein was not just a brilliant scientist. He was a man of many talents and opinions. A scientist, philosopher, social scientist, economist etc. all rolled in one. He had strong opinions about socialism, war, atom bomb among many things that really made him stand out and attracted the attention of US government authorities.

Since he came from Germany and was not very much in support of USA building atom bomb, he was kept out of US atom bomb project which employed many of his peers from US and elsewhere. People also were not sure if he still kept any loyalty for his former homeland which was in war with rest of the world as part of world war II.

Einstein kept ruffling feathers with his outspoken views on every important issue. After the world war II, cold war picked up and a section of US went berserk with the paranoia about communism and how communism was going to take over US. So, a section of US society made up of powerful people including senators and government officials started vigilante movement to smoke out communists from wherever there are bring them to justice and thus protect US from being taken over by communism.

Einstein became victim of one such witch hunt. Since he was powerful in his own ways and more importantly had done nothing wrong at all, they could not inflict any harm on him but systematic persecution continued.

Makes an interesting read. Style of the book is not that interesting. Loses traction in many places due to poor narration. Make a really good read if you can hold on.


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