The Other Einstein
by Marie Benedict
Review by Gayle Surrette
Sourcebooks Landmark Kindle Edition ISBN/ITEM#: B01ENNQ274
Date: 18 October 2016
In The Other Einstein, by Marie Benedict, readers are going to get a totally different view of Albert Einstein. This is the story of Mileva "Mitza" Marić Albert Einstein's first wife. Benedict uses biographies, letters, and other documents to piece together a fictional history of her life using as much factual information as possible.
The book is very reader friendly in that while, in some areas, it does give a bit of information about the various theories and scientific discoveries of the time that scientific information isn't necessarily the focus. What is the focus is Mitza's life and how she fit into her time. She was born in 1875 in Titel, Serbia and died in 1948 in Zürich, Switzerland. She was only the second woman to finish a full program of study in Mathematics and Physics at Zurich Polytechnic which was one of the very few college/university level institutions that accepted women.
Think about that for a moment. Think about how difficult it was for a woman at that time to get into a university when women were supposed to marry and have children. There were few women in the sciences at that time, Madame Curie was someone Mitza admired. Women weren't encouraged to learn and educate themselves beyond simple basics.
There were and are rumors that Mitza was instrumental in formulating Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Einstein was never considered brilliant at math but he was considered a great theoretician. On the other hand, Mitza was considered to be a mathematical genius. Once they married, Mitza disappeared into her role of wife and mother; her career in science and research seemed nonexistent.
The Other Einstein does not paint Albert Einstein in a very favorable manner. Here he is a theoretician who seeks acclaim, while affable and charming, he was not afraid to use the people around him to his advantage. So those who idolize Einstein may be very put off. On the other hand, no one is perfect and it is easy to see that interpreting the historical and personal documents in the light of the plight of women at the time certainly lends credence, or potential, to Benedict's account of Mitza's life story. Added aditional veracity is what we actually do know about Einstein's public life.
The book contains an author's note with a list of resources that would allow readers to learn more about The Other Einstein.