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The illegitimate child in Einstein's past did not come to light until more than 30 years after his death, when the first volume of his collected papers finally appeared, in 1987. Still, a mystery remains. What happened to Lieserl?
Zackheim says she decided to pursue the book when she discovered that Einstein, a great icon of her youth in Compton, Calif., had had a child he might have forsaken. "It fascinated me from a psychological point of view," she says. "How did his daughter feel about being abandoned, especially by somebody who was so important to the culture?"
Helped by small grants and loans, Zackheim set off on her five-year quest for Lieserl, crisscrossing Switzerland, Germany, England, Hungary, and especially Serbia. Even while bombs burst, she visited Mileva's ancestral villages, seeking her kin or anyone close to her family, including Serbian Orthodox priests and nuns, and holding many hours of coffee-table conversation, to say nothing of rummaging through countless baptismal records and archives for key documents.
Like Zackheim, most people are slowly discovering that Einstein was not simply the secular saint they grew up with -- the aureole-haired, sock-shunning professor who solved geometry problems for little girls, alerted F.D.R. to the German A-bomb peril and then wept over the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Einstein reshaped our view of the universe. That he was a flawed human being is not only fascinating in a tabloid sort of way but reassuring as well. It makes our heroes, even those of unfathomable genius, seem a little more like us. ---From Time Magazine, October 4th 1999
Posted December 14, 1999
Michele Zackheim's 'Einstein's Daughter', a riveting mystery adventure set in contemporary Eastern Europe, is a gripping story of disappearance and search, an array of interesting and colorful informants, and an analysis of a famed marriage sleuthed through actual and medical/psychiatric history. The reader is instantly caught in the intrigue of the investigative process as the author is buoyed by promising leads only to encounter dead ends and oblique twists. Suspense grows as one wonders how she will come to any conclusion as she sifts through tangled history and her own often conflicting exploration. But Zackheim does come to a conclusion which certainly makes sense as a golden thread of psychological veracity emerges. When she ends the book with the discovered underlinings in the 'The Sexual Question', she provides an emotional weight which combines Freud and Hitchcock into one muffled AHA!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.