In this dramatic, surprise-filled story, unfolding against a backdrop of an era when America was sweat-drenched in fear and paranoia over national security, readers will discover a new dimension to Albert Einstein. The avalanche of Einstein images – genius, brilliant, absent-minded, kindly, bumbling and more – has all but buried Einstein's political dimension, and totally covered up his civil-rights activities which have remained virtually unknown to his tens of millions of fans and followers.

But in an age of increasing tribalization around the world, the fact that Einstein and Paul Robeson, two of the 20th Century's most famous and popular figures, were not only friends but co-chaired the American Crusade to End Lynching and shared a dozen other anti-racist activities, could serve as a role model for millions. Yet the story has remained untold – until now – as has Einstein's support for W. E. B. Du Bois, his friendship with Marian Anderson and his many ties with the African American people living in Princeton's own little ghetto, in and around Witherspoon Street.

Here, the authors interweave Einstein’s civil-rights letters, speeches and articles, brought together in this volume for the first time, with candid interviews with African American Princetonians who remember Einstein, and historical developments, many of which rocked the nation.

As the authors say in their preface, if racism in America depends for its survival at least partly on the smothering of anti-racist voices, then this book is intended to be part of a grand unsmothering.


Fred Jerome is also the author of The Einstein File: J. Edgar Hoover's Secret War Against the World's Most Famous Scientist (St. Martin's Press, 2002). Rodger Taylor is a journalist and supervising branch librarian with the New York Public Library.