The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

This biographical novel tells the story of Mileva “Mitza” Maric, Albert Einstein’s firstother einstein wife.  She was brilliant enough to earn admission in 1896 to the physics program at Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zurich, where she was the only woman in her class and a classmate of Einstein’s.  She made friends with three young women who were students in other programs at the school.  They made a pact to remain single and devote themselves to their professions, since it was then very rare for a woman to combine marriage and family with a career.  This pact fell apart when Mitza married Einstein.

She dreamed of a marriage between equals who would work together on their scientific studies.  At times, she felt that she had achieved this dream, but eventually she came to feel more like Einstein’s servant than his wife.

I’ve never studied physics but did not find scientific knowledge necessary to enjoy reading about Mitza’s life.

Is the story true?  While the author read many books on her subject and drew on letters between Einstein and Mitza, as well as on Mitza’s letters to her friend Helene, she learned that two major areas of Mitza’s life remain mysteries.  Scientists do not agree on the role that Mitza, as Einstein’s wife and as a fellow physicist, probably played in his discoveries, and history does not record the fate of the oldest Einstein child, Lieserl.  In these parts of the story, the author had to decide what story line to take.

The Other Einstein introduces this little-known woman to modern readers.

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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