I was overjoyed when the first edition came out. Here in one small volume were many of Einstein's most famous lines. I was even happier when new expanded editions came out. I have used the book almost as an index to my collection of books about Einstein (and I have a dozen of them).
But I noticed one problem in the editing. In the first edition, in the chapter "On Religion, God, and Philosophy," Einstein is quoted as saying "I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of his children for their numerous stupidities, for which only he can be held responsible; in my opinion, only his nonexistence could excuse him." In the "expanded" edition, the word "only" (the first one) was removed. Well, this changes the meaning a lot, given what we know about Einstein's denial of free will in man. With the word "only" removed, God's guilt is lightened, as though suggesting there are other culprits, but in so doing she also distorts Einstein's meaning. I was startled enough by this that I went to the science library at the University of Toronto, and double-checked Einstein's words in the multivolume "Collected Papers of Albert Einstein." The word "only" appears in both the German original ("nur") and the English translation. Over and over Eisntein denied that human beings have free will, and so objectively there is no one to blame for our crimes but God - if, as Einstein said, He even existed.
Initially I suspected the editor of deleting "only" deliberately - after all, the "censored" version appears in both the second and third editions. But I'm now satisfied that this was an honest editing error and I have been reassured that it will be corrected in the next edition.
On the whole, the quotes are quite reliable. And the sources are very wide, including not only Einstein's own collected papers but the Einstein Archive and other secondary writings (such as memoirs). There must be materials that may be new and interesting even to Einstein scholars.
In his foreword Freeman Dyson claims Einstein had a "darker side" - for example, with respect to his family. Well, I'm sorry, but Einstein never pretended he was a saint. He was in some ways only an ordinary human being with a very extraordinary brain. He was certainly no great father or husband. But Einstein never asked anyone to censor his biography for him, making him look better than he was. If he cheated his wife, he did so virtually openly. So I think Dyson's point is really pointless. Besides, the term "darker side" misleads people into thinking that Einstein must have done some evil deeds which he tried to keep away from view. Newton's deceitful conduct in the priority dispute certainly suggests a nasty side to his personality. Nothing of the kind was ever in Einstein's character or conduct. Einstein had a temper, and he could be grumpy, or sexist, or rude, or over-the-top in his words on occasion. And that's about as far as his "dark side" gets. So what? He never did anything remotely criminal or unethical or even deceitful, for those of us wondering what this "dark side" means. (Incidentally, Dyson's assertion that the Japanese show "exquisite taste" in admiring Einstein and Hawking defies common sense. It's not just the Japanese but the whole world over who have such "exquisite taste"; nor is it just Einstein and Hawking whom the Japanese admire. The Japanese admire all sorts of people, some of whom would not be considered terribly heroic by us. Dyson is a great mathematical physicist, but I'm familiar enough with Dyson's many writings to know this guy doesn't always say sensible things.) Returning to Dyson's foreword, his story about armed Israeli soldiers commandeering Einstein's files at Princeton, NJ on a dark and rainy Christmas night, possibly breaking American laws, while good enough for a cheap movie scene, sounds too fantastic to be believable. His implication is that Einstein's dirty laundry is now safely and deliberately hidden in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Unless you're a connoisseur of conspiracy theories, you can safely dismiss this notion. Unless the files are physically destroyed, archivists will dig them out sooner or later. There is no reason to believe that non-Israeli Einstein specialists are denied access to them. I can't say I'll never be surprised by new revelations, but I doubt any will be interesting enough by now because the most important of Einstein's deeds and words and beliefs are already well known. What's yet to be revealed is most likely not interesting enough. (If someone could somehow find a manuscript proving Mileva doing most of the original mathematical thinking in Special Relativity, that would be an example of interesting new revelations.)
This book is very good as a general introduction to Einstein the man and even to his physics to a limited extent. The quotes are well-chosen and cover a good range. On the other hand, I wouldn't call it an Einstein concordance. For one thing, it is too short to be any such thing. For another, only an expert about Einstein AND his physics - like Abraham Pais - is qualified to compile a "concordance." (It would help that this expert also knew Einstein personally, though this is perhaps not necessary.)
This book is thus not the real thing - but surely a handy enough substitute. Its merits still far outweigh its imperfections. Here in one handy volume you can find Einstein's views on wide range of subjects, from politics to women to pipesmoking to Germans and Jews and of course physics. Not all of us will agree with everything he said. But in my opinion, Einstein's insights in philosophy, the scientific method, and music are devastatingly penetrating. And this book gives a fair and representative sample of these. (For those of you who are really interested in Einstein's "darker side," look for his tough opinions on Germans. For me, Einstein's bitter views of Germans come closest to showing his so-called "darker" side. Close but not quite though. Given all those dumb things Germans did in his lifetime, who can blame him?)
Two indexes, one for subjects and another for key words, make this book particularly user-friendly.
Calaprice has done Einstein admirers like myself a fine service. And the timing of this edition is good. Not only is 2005 the 100th anniversary of Special Relativity (1905), but April 18, 2005 is also the 50th anniversary of Einstein's death.