Turn to the table of contents, follow the entries in italics, and you will find an almost entirely nonscientific biography of Einstein. Turn to the first chapter and you will find a nontechnical tour through this book, some personal reminiscences, and an attempt at a general assessment.
The principal aim of this work is to present a scientific biography of Albert Einstein. I shall attempt to sketch the concepts of the physical world as they were when Einstein became a physicist, how he changed them, and what scientific inheritance he left. This book is an essay in open history, open because Einstein's oeuvre left us with unresolved questions of principle. The search for their answers is a central quest of physics today. Some issues cannot be discussed without entering into mathematical details, but I have tried to hold these to a minimum by directing the reader to standard texts wherever possible.
Science, more than anything else, was Einstein's life, his devotion, his refuge, and his source of detachment. In order to understand the man, it is necessary to follow his scientific ways of thinking and doing. But that is not sufficient. He was also a highly gifted stylist of the German language, a lover of music, a student of philosophy. He was deeply concerned about the human condition. (In his later years, he used to refer to his daily reading of The New York Times as his adrenaline treatment.) He was a husband, a father, a stepfather. He was a Jew. And he is a legend. All these elements are touched on in this story; follow the entries in italics.
Were I asked for a one-sentence biography of Einstein, I would say, 'He was the freest man I have ever known.' Had I to compose a one-sentence scientific biography of him, I would write, "Better than anyone before or after him, he knew how to invent invariance principles and make use of statistical fluctuations.' Were I permitted to use one illustration, I would offer the following drawing: