100 books like Subtle Is the Lord

By Abraham Pais,

Here are 100 books that Subtle Is the Lord fans have personally recommended if you like Subtle Is the Lord. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom

David N. Schwartz Author Of The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age

From my list on the lives of 20th century physicists.

Why am I passionate about this?

My dad was a Nobel Prize-winning particle physicist who co-discovered the muon neutrino, a particle whose existence was first explained by Fermi. I am not a physicist myself but grew up around physicists and have always been fascinated by them and was lucky to have met many of the great 20th century physicists myself – through my father. My family background enabled me to know these great scientists not only as scientists but as people.  

David's book list on the lives of 20th century physicists

David N. Schwartz Why did David love this book?

Dirac was one of the creators of modern quantum physics. His theoretical contributions are astonishing in their insights and their power. He was, as the title says, a very strange man: painfully shy, laconic in the extreme, and socially awkward. He spoke so rarely that his colleagues at Cambridge used to joke that “a dirac” was a unit of measurement equal to one word an hour. Farmelo is a fine writer and gives a lay reader a deep understanding of why Dirac is considered such a giant in the field.

By Graham Farmelo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Strangest Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paul Dirac was among the greatest scientific geniuses of the modern age. One of Einstein's most admired colleagues, he helped discover quantum mechanics, and his prediction of antimatter was one of the greatest triumphs in the history of physics. In 1933 he became the youngest theoretician ever to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. Dirac's personality, like his achievements, is legendary. The Strangest Man uses previously undiscovered archives to reveal the many facets of Dirac's brilliantly original mind.


Book cover of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Aurélie Basha i Novosejt Author Of 'I Made Mistakes': Robert McNamara's Vietnam War Policy, 1960-1968

From my list on the life and times of Daniel Ellsberg.

Why am I passionate about this?

My research permitted amazing conversations with some of McNamara’s former colleagues and their children, including Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg informed the direction of my research and shared my excitement about the sources I was looking for, especially the secret diaries of his former (and beloved) boss, John McNaughton. He is both a window into and a foil to McNamara. On substance, they were in basic agreement on most issues (from Vietnam to nuclear issues), but they chose very different paths to address their moral qualms. I think the questions they asked–including on the moral responsibility of public officials–are as urgent today as they were in the 1960s.

Aurélie's book list on the life and times of Daniel Ellsberg

Aurélie Basha i Novosejt Why did Aurélie love this book?

A book that combines the intellectual firepower of possibly the best nuclear historian (Martin Sherwin) and biographer (Kai Bird) of their generation to produce something that is much more than the story of the “father of the nuclear bomb.”

As amazing as the film is, the book is a real thing of beauty. Juxtaposed with Ellsberg’s writings, what the book shows is just how much the architects of the nuclear era struggled with the moral implications of this reality.

By Kai Bird, Martin J. Sherwin,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked American Prometheus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Physicist and polymath, 'father of the atom bomb' J. Robert Oppenheimer was the most famous scientist of his generation. Already a notable young physicist before WWII, during the race to split the atom, 'Oppie' galvanized an extraordinary team of international scientists while keeping the FBI at bay. As the man who more than any other inaugurated the atomic age, he became one of the iconic figures of the last century, the embodiment of his own observation that 'physicists have known sin'.

Years later, haunted by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Oppenheimer became a staunch opponent of plans to develop the hydrogen bomb.…


Book cover of Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman

David N. Schwartz Author Of The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age

From my list on the lives of 20th century physicists.

Why am I passionate about this?

My dad was a Nobel Prize-winning particle physicist who co-discovered the muon neutrino, a particle whose existence was first explained by Fermi. I am not a physicist myself but grew up around physicists and have always been fascinated by them and was lucky to have met many of the great 20th century physicists myself – through my father. My family background enabled me to know these great scientists not only as scientists but as people.  

David's book list on the lives of 20th century physicists

David N. Schwartz Why did David love this book?

James Gleick is one of the best popular science writers we have, and this classic biography of everyone’s favorite physicist was the first to peel back the curtain and give readers a deeper look into the man, his work, and his life. Behind the clowning and the joking was a deep sadness that Feynman carried with him throughout his life. But his contributions to physics, particularly quantum electrodynamics, put him in the legendary category. 

By James Gleick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Genius as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To his colleagues, Richard Feynman was not so much a genius as he was a full-blown magician: someone who “does things that nobody else could do and that seem completely unexpected.” The path he cleared for twentieth-century physics led from the making of the atomic bomb to a Nobel Prize-winning theory of quantam electrodynamics to his devastating exposé of the Challenger space shuttle disaster. At the same time, the ebullient Feynman established a reputation as an eccentric showman, a master safe cracker and bongo player, and a wizard of seduction.

Now James Gleick, author of the bestselling Chaos, unravels teh…


Book cover of Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb

David N. Schwartz Author Of The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age

From my list on the lives of 20th century physicists.

Why am I passionate about this?

My dad was a Nobel Prize-winning particle physicist who co-discovered the muon neutrino, a particle whose existence was first explained by Fermi. I am not a physicist myself but grew up around physicists and have always been fascinated by them and was lucky to have met many of the great 20th century physicists myself – through my father. My family background enabled me to know these great scientists not only as scientists but as people.  

David's book list on the lives of 20th century physicists

David N. Schwartz Why did David love this book?

Leo Szilard was one of the most interesting people of the 20th century. His first love was physics, and he is given credit for being the first to think about what would happen if someone could create a nuclear chain reaction. He worked closely with Fermi to make that chain reaction actually happen in Chicago in 1942, and was one of those who was able to see the great tragedy of the discovery, leading efforts in 1945 to try and prevent the use of the weapon against Japan. He was a colorful man, a bon vivant who loved to spend money on good clothes and fine food, and had the kind of mind that flitted from one idea to the next with the brilliance of a Monarch butterfly. His later years were devoted to the biological sciences. Lanouette/Silard have written the classic work on him. 

By William Lanouette, Bela Silard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Genius in the Shadows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Leo Szilard has long been overshadowed by such luminaries as Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Enrico Fermi—with whom he codesigned the first nuclear reactor in 1942. A shy, witty eccentric, the Hungarian born Szilard lived both sides of the arms race, working first to prevent, then to hasten, and finally to outlaw nuclear weapons.

"Lanouette's book is eminently readable. . . . An excellent book spiced with telling anecdotes about a strange man who influenced world history."—Max F. Perutz, New York Review of Books

"Lanouette's exhaustively researched and artfully written account of one of the most underrated figures of the atomic age…


Book cover of Einstein: His Life and Universe

Andreas Kluth Author Of Hannibal and Me: What History's Greatest Military Strategist Can Teach Us About Success and Failure

From my list on biographies to help make sense of your own life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved well-told stories of people who came before us, because I’ve always assumed that their lives offer us lessons. Subtle ones, perhaps, but important ones. That’s how, many years ago, I came across the Parallel Lives of Plutarch, who’s been called history’s first biographer. Eventually, I decided to have my own stab at interpreting the biographies of historical figures, and to weave history, philosophy, and psychology into (hopefully) gripping stories. As a journalist and a dual citizen of the US and Germany who’s also lived in the UK and Asia, I naturally looked all over the world for the right characters. And I still do.

Andreas' book list on biographies to help make sense of your own life

Andreas Kluth Why did Andreas love this book?

Some of life’s greatest adventures, triumphs, and disasters are intellectual (which is why I compare Albert Einstein to Hannibal in my own book). As a young iconoclast, Einstein completely blew up the conventional wisdom in science. He found a new way of thinking about gravity, time, space, light, and the whole universe. Being eccentric, he came to embody our notions about the mad scientist. As a human being, he could be endearing but also cruelit’s not clear whether he ever met, or cared about, his disabled daughter Lieserl. But the most intriguing lesson of his life to me is that even such a genius could get mentally stuck. It’s as if, in his later years, his imagination had been thrown into prison.

By Walter Isaacson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Einstein as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

By the author of the acclaimed bestseller 'Benjamin Franklin', this is the first full biography of Albert Einstein since all of his papers have become available. How did his mind work? What made him a genius? Isaacson's biography shows how his scientific imagination sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality. His fascinating story is a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom. Based on newly released personal letters of Einstein, this book explores how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk - a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn't get a teaching job or a doctorate - became…


Book cover of Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian

Michael DiRuggiero Author Of Einstein: The Man and His Mind

From my list on Albert Einstein for the non-scientist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the co-founder and current owner of The Manhattan Rare Book Company. I’ve been in the rare book business for 25 years, specializing in the history of science with particular emphasis on material relating to Albert Einstein. Like many people, I’ve long been drawn to Einstein, attracted by his wisdom, curiosity, personality, approachability, and general decency. 

Michael's book list on Albert Einstein for the non-scientist

Michael DiRuggiero Why did Michael love this book?

Of all the books I've read about Einstein, this one was, perhaps, the most eye-opening for me. For years, the prevailing opinion was that while Einstein was (of course) brilliant, and his special and general theories of relativity were seismically important, he was on the wrong side of history with his views on quantum theory. Stone sets the record straight: Einstein was indeed skeptical of many aspects of quantum theory (particularly with his refusal to accept quantum entanglement and inherent randomness), but his challenges to the theory were so intelligent and so piercing, that the entire scientific community had to respond to him. Stone argues convincingly that Einstein's concerns were often the driving force propelling the theory forward.

By A. Douglas Stone,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Einstein and the Quantum as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Einstein and the Quantum reveals for the first time the full significance of Albert Einstein's contributions to quantum theory. Einstein famously rejected quantum mechanics, observing that God does not play dice. But, in fact, he thought more about the nature of atoms, molecules, and the emission and absorption of light--the core of what we now know as quantum theory--than he did about relativity. A compelling blend of physics, biography, and the history of science, Einstein and the Quantum shares the untold story of how Einstein--not Max Planck or Niels Bohr--was the driving force behind early quantum theory. It paints a…


Book cover of E = mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation

Michael DiRuggiero Author Of Einstein: The Man and His Mind

From my list on Albert Einstein for the non-scientist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the co-founder and current owner of The Manhattan Rare Book Company. I’ve been in the rare book business for 25 years, specializing in the history of science with particular emphasis on material relating to Albert Einstein. Like many people, I’ve long been drawn to Einstein, attracted by his wisdom, curiosity, personality, approachability, and general decency. 

Michael's book list on Albert Einstein for the non-scientist

Michael DiRuggiero Why did Michael love this book?

Using Einstein's most famous equation as his organizational theme, Bodanis offers a fresh and exciting approach to Einstein's life and work. Energy, mass, and the speed of light become characters of their own as Bodanis traces our evolving understanding of the nature of the universe. The book is all about context—delightfully so—giving Bodanis an excuse to introduce a kaleidoscope of colorful personalities who either influenced Einstein, or were influenced by him, all connected by their relationship to this most powerful of all equations.     

By David Bodanis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked E = mc2 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Already climbing the bestseller lists-and garnering rave reviews this "little masterpiece" sheds brilliant light on the equation that changed the world.

Bodanis begins by devoting chapters to each of the equation's letters and symbols, introducing the science and scientists forming the backdrop to Einstein's discovery from Ole Roemer's revelation that the speed of light could be measured to Michael Faraday's pioneering work on energy fields. Having demystified the equation, Bodanis explains its science and brings it to life historically, making clear the astonishing array of discoveries and consequences it made possible. It would prove to be a beacon throughout the…


Book cover of An Einstein Encyclopedia

Michael DiRuggiero Author Of Einstein: The Man and His Mind

From my list on Albert Einstein for the non-scientist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the co-founder and current owner of The Manhattan Rare Book Company. I’ve been in the rare book business for 25 years, specializing in the history of science with particular emphasis on material relating to Albert Einstein. Like many people, I’ve long been drawn to Einstein, attracted by his wisdom, curiosity, personality, approachability, and general decency. 

Michael's book list on Albert Einstein for the non-scientist

Michael DiRuggiero Why did Michael love this book?

This is probably the book I study the most when researching Einstein. Although comprehensive in scope, it is still easy to navigate, with clear chapter headings that allow the reader to find information quickly. While many people hear the word "encyclopedia" and expect dry and dull prose, that is not the case here, for it is a book designed to be read, not merely consulted. Near the end of the book, there is a chronological list of Einstein's papers with concise descriptions. This is a gift to anyone interested in Einstein's scientific life, since the authors make even the most difficult of Einstein's papers seem approachable.

By Alice Calaprice, Daniel Kennefick, Robert Schulmann

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Einstein Encyclopedia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the single most complete guide to Albert Einstein's life and work for students, researchers, and browsers alike. Written by three leading Einstein scholars who draw on their combined wealth of expertise gained during their work on the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, this authoritative and accessible reference features more than one hundred entries and is divided into three parts covering the personal, scientific, and public spheres of Einstein's life. An Einstein Encyclopedia contains entries on Einstein's birth and death, family and romantic relationships, honors and awards, educational institutions where he studied and worked, citizenships and immigration to America,…


Book cover of On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein

Andi Diehn Author Of Forces: Physical Science for Kids

From my list on children’s books about physics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by how the world works. What gives gravity so much power? Why is it easier to lift things with levers and pulleys? Why do we have electricity inside of our own bodies?! The world is amazing. My job editing nonfiction books for kids puts me on the front lines of some of the smartest science writing out there. While I had no hand in the making of the following five picture books about physics, they are still some of my favorites because of the way they peel back the mysterious layers of the world to show us the science hidden in our daily lives.

Andi's book list on children’s books about physics

Andi Diehn Why did Andi love this book?

You can’t talk physics without talking Einstein! This beautiful book explores Einstein’s curiosity and drive to know more, which began when he was young. His journey from nonverbal child to brilliant scientist is fascinating and inspiring for all kinds of readers.

By Jennifer Berne, Vladimir Radunsky (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked On a Beam of Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Travel along with Einstein on a journey full of curiosity, laughter, and scientific discovery. Parents and children alike will appreciate this moving story of the powerful difference imagination can make in any life.


Book cover of The World According to Physics

Brian Clegg Author Of What Do You Think You Are? The Science of What Makes You You

From my list on making the deep mysteries of science approachable.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a science writer with over 40 books published. Science is central to all our modern lives—but for many people it feels remote, and difficult to understand. I love the opportunity to communicate science—to turn it from a collection of facts into stories that people can relate to. I always read popular science before I got into writing, but, if anything, I read it even more now. My own background is physics and math—and I enjoy reading and writing about that—but sometimes, it’s particularly interesting to pull together different aspects of science that affect all of us, crossing disciplines and uncovering the wonders that science bring us.

Brian's book list on making the deep mysteries of science approachable

Brian Clegg Why did Brian love this book?

In this compact hardback, physicist Jim Al-Khalili outlines in a straightforward way what he describes as the “three pillars of physics”. These don’t overlap much with the physics many of us will have done at school: they are relativity, quantum theory, and thermodynamics. Yet Al-Khalili shows how these three topics help us understand how everything works. In an approachable way, without a single equation, we get a feel for the power of physics. Al-Khalili’s personality and enthusiasm shine through.

By Jim Al-Khalili,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World According to Physics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Quantum physicist, New York Times bestselling author, and BBC host Jim Al-Khalili offers a fascinating and illuminating look at what physics reveals about the world

Shining a light on the most profound insights revealed by modern physics, Jim Al-Khalili invites us all to understand what this crucially important science tells us about the universe and the nature of reality itself.

Al-Khalili begins by introducing the fundamental concepts of space, time, energy, and matter, and then describes the three pillars of modern physics-quantum theory, relativity, and thermodynamics-showing how all three must come together if we are ever to have a full…


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