Cover: China and Albert Einstein: The Reception of the Physicist and His Theory in China, 1917–1979, from Harvard University PressCover: China and Albert Einstein in HARDCOVER

China and Albert Einstein

The Reception of the Physicist and His Theory in China, 1917–1979

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Product Details


$65.50 • £52.95 • €59.00

ISBN 9780674015388

Publication Date: 04/25/2005


272 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

3 line illustrations, 6 tables


How and why was it that between 1917 and the mid-1920s the Chinese were able to absorb Einstein’s relativity theories so swiftly, painlessly, and virtually without controversy? In this absorbing book Danian Hu provides us with cogent and elegant answers. As an added bonus, Hu humanizes his study by his numerous and vivid mini-biographies of Chinese physicists at many levels of expertise. The attempt by the leading ideologues of the Cultural Revolution to force through a radical rejection of Einstein’s relativity theories provides a grim and gripping coda to a remarkable story.—Jonathan Spence, Sterling Professor of History, Yale University

I greatly enjoyed reading this book. I believe it is a highly original contribution, certainly to my own field of the history of relativity. It is the first study of the reception of relativity theory into a society with little background in nineteenth-century physics, and it is likely to be the most important of such studies, given China’s substantial contribution to twentieth-century physics. Einstein scholars and biographers will find it extremely useful.—Daniel Kennefick, Einstein Papers Project, California Institute of Technology

China and Albert Einstein is a novel and original contribution to the as yet seriously understudied but extremely important field, the history of science in modern China. It introduces a wealth of new information and greatly increases our knowledge about the reception and assimilation of Einstein’s theory of relativity in China during the turbulent twentieth century. The study actually delivers even more, since by using relativity theory as a crucial example, Danian Hu explains some general features of the process of transplanting modern science onto Chinese soil.—Alexei Kojevnikov, University of Georgia

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