Andrew Robinson, the prolific writer and journalist, has written twenty-five books, in fields as diverse as the history of science, Indian culture, and archaeology. In his most recent release, Einstein on the Run, Robinson turns his attention to Albert Einstein and his long-running relationship with
Robinson’s angle is a relatively novel one. People know Einstein, the author suggests, for his German roots, for his formative years in
The lecture played out like a who's who of interwar science and politics, with Robinson pointing out famous faces from sepia line-ups displayed on a Powerpoint: scientific conferences attended by Frederick Lindemann and Marie Curie, political tête-à-têtes with Winston Churchill, an Oxford Union debate photo complete with a baby-faced Michael Foot. There were sketches too, from celebrated cartoonists such as David Low and Herblock, illustrating how Einstein captured the popular imagination. Robinson is not the most animated of figures, perhaps a little too engrossed in his source material and innocently expecting more expertise from his audience. Nevertheless, his passion is clear to see, and the lack of technical language made the talk (and presumably also the book) accessible to those like myself, with little-to-no scientific knowledge.
The author's forte is in how he creates a very human picture of Einstein, as a man with a twinkling sense of humour. The physicist was tickled by the Dean of Christchurch falling asleep during one of his lectures, and there was an amusing episode in which a young William Golding comes across Einstein on a bridge in Magdalen College Deer Park, neither able to communicate with the other but both battling on in rudimentary sign language. Perhaps the most surreal moment was when Einstein fled
Robinson's talk was a rich tapestry, weaving Einstein's darker times together with flashes of lightness. A committed pacifist, the physicist hated dinner jackets and formal attire for its similarity to military uniform. He would go on to renounce his German citizenship and see out his days in the