What We Are Reading Today: Einstein in Bohemia by Michael D. Gordin
In the spring of 1911, Albert Einstein moved with his wife and two sons to Prague, the capital of Bohemia, where he accepted a post as a professor of theoretical physics.
Though he intended to make Prague his home, he lived there for just 16 months, an interlude that his biographies typically dismiss as a brief and inconsequential episode.
Einstein in Bohemia is a spellbinding portrait of the city that touched Einstein’s life in unexpected ways—and of the gifted young scientist who left his mark on the science, literature, and politics of Prague.
Michael Gordin’s narrative is a masterfully crafted account of a person encountering a particular place at a specific moment in time.
Despite being heir to almost a millennium of history, Einstein’s Prague was a relatively marginal city within the sprawling Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Yet Prague, its history, and its multifaceted culture changed the trajectories of Einstein’s personal and scientific life. It was here that his marriage unraveled, where he first began thinking seriously about his Jewish identity, and where he embarked on the project of general relativity.
Prague was also where he formed lasting friendships with novelist Max Brod, Zionist intellectual Hugo Bergmann, physicist Philipp Frank, and other important figures.