Review Blog

Jan 15 2020

DK Life Stories

cover image

Dorling Kindersley, 2019.
Albert Einstein by Will Mara. ISBN: 9780241322918. hbk., 128pp.
Gandhi by Diane Ailey, illus. by Charlotte Age. ISBN: 9781465474636. hbk., 128pp.
Wil Mara has made Einstein's life story an engaging and fascinating look at this very complex human being, one whose ideas have shaken up the foundation of modern physics. As a patent clerk in Bern Albert had time to think about and discuss his ideas, publishing his four ground shaking papers in 1905, which made the academic world take notice. Teaching at Berlin he saw the rise of Fascism in the 1930's a direct result of the punishing Treaty Of Versailles which ended World War One. A committed pacifist he took the position at Princeton in the USA and there he was able to advise people on the road Hitler and his scientists were taking. The Manhattan Project grew out of his advice, paradoxically doing the very thing he thought countries should not do. Considered one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century, Einstein died in 1955.
The book on Gandhi has the same format, presenting to younger readers a leader of the twentieth century known over the world. It begins with his family and childhood in India where he became aware of the oppression of British rule. Moving to South Africa to work as a lawyer, their system of keeping black and white separate infuriated him, and he did all he could to support the underrepresented. He successfully developed the idea of satyagraha, a way of dealing with the British through non-violence and civil disobedience which was instrumental in winning India's freedom from British rule in 1947. This potted biography presents a flawed man who in developing ideas of peace and non violence influenced others who came after him such as Martin Luther King. Born in 1869, he was assassinated in 1948 by a fanatic who disagreed with his peaceful approach to non Hindus.
Divided into ten (Einstein) and 12 (Gandhi) chapters, the sentences are short and pithy, illustrations dot the pages and the whole is complimented with fact boxes, asides and photographs, designed to entrance the younger reader. A detailed glossary, most useful index, family trees, who's who and timeline of their lives are rounded off with a quiz that readers will love to try.
The books are part a series, DK Life Stories, and while the format may not immediately attract some readers, a teacher will be able to point them out to students as a valuable and involving source of information.
Fran Knight

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