The narrative teaches readers a great deal about the scientific research of Einstein and Curie; however, it also probes the tangled romantic lives of both scientists: we see the widowed Curie’s affair with a married French scientist, an affair exposing Curie to public scandal and eliciting from Einstein a spirited defense. A compelling portrait of two geniuses, remarkable for their conceptual daring and emotional complexity.
Orens’s approach to the lives and work of the attendees, through the story of this conference, is unusual and well conceived. His account revisits what is certainly one of the most exciting, turbulent periods in the history of science and better acquaints us with people who played significant roles in this drama ... In his treatment of Einstein, Orens discusses a claim that science historians have almost unanimously dismissed—that it was Einstein’s first wife, Mileva, who developed the theory of special relativity. In a book much concerned with lack of recognition for women, Orens’s careful assessment of her minor contribution is appropriate.