"Holmes offers a work of value to those interested in the Europe-wide scientific community, Germany during the Great War and the early Weimar Republic, and pacifism and internationalism. . . . A thorough and valuable work. . . . Highly recommended"—Choice
"Albert Einstein’s belief system is as relevant today—if not more so—as it was then."—The Jewish Post and News
"A valuable study on the pacifist thought and activism of Albert Einstein from 1914 until 1921."—Peace and Change: A Journal of Peace Research
"A rich treasure-trove of information not only about Einstein’s thoughts on pacifism but also about the social movements, pacifist organizations and crosscurrents of thinking moving across Europe at the time and which have immense relevance even today. This book belongs in every peace studies library. It is an important reference work for peace research, peace education and peace movements."—Journal of Peace Education
"The book does an excellent job of bringing the reader through Einstein’s experience of the war and his visceral response to it."—Daniel Kennefick, coauthor of An Einstein Encyclopedia
"A well-researched, well-written book that will be a well-received addition to the Einstein studies community."—Steve Gimbel, author of Einstein’s Jewish Science: Physics at the Intersection of Politics
"In this excellent contribution to the field of pacifist studies, Virginia Holmes has distilled the true essence of Einstein's commitment to a republic of letters and to the spirit of internationalism that nourished it."—Robert Schulmann, former director of the Einstein Papers Project at Boston University
"Holmes’s book illuminates Einstein’s early engagement with politics through a rich collection of edited and translated texts, organized chronologically from the fall of 1914 to the end of 1921."—Journal of Modern History
To understand how Albert Einstein’s pacifist and internationalist thought matured from a youthful inclination to pragmatic initiatives and savvy insights, Holmes gives readers access to Einstein in his own words. Through his private writings, she shows how Einstein’s thoughts and feelings in response to the war evolved from horrified disbelief, to ironic alienation from both the war’s violence and patriotic support for it by the German people, to a kind of bleak endurance. Meanwhile, his outward responses progressed, from supporting initiatives of other pacifists, to developing his own philosophy of a postwar order, to being the impetus behind initiatives.
In the beginning of the postwar period, Einstein’s writing reflected an optimism about Germany’s new Weimar Republic and trust in the laudatory effects of military defeat and economic hardship on the German people. He clearly supported the principles in US President Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” speech. Yet Einstein’s enthusiasm diminished as he became disappointed in the early Weimar Republic’s leaders and as his aversion to the culture of violence developing in Germany grew. He also felt offended at the betrayal of Wilson’s principles in the Treaty of Versailles. Drawing upon personal correspondence and public proclamations, Holmes offers an intimate and nuanced exploration of the pacifist thought of one of our greatest intellectuals.
Virginia Iris Holmes served as senior research editor for the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology from 2002 to 2008. She has taught courses on the Holocaust and world history at Western New England University and the State University of New York at Cortland.
Series: Modern Jewish History
6 x 9, 360 pages, 22 black and white illustrations