Alan Lightman in the New York Times:
There’s a passage in Carlo Rovelli’s lovely new book, “The Order of Time” — a letter from Einstein to the family of his recently deceased friend Michele Besso: “Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing… The distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Rovelli comments that Einstein was taking great poetic license with the temporal findings of his relativity theory, even to the point of error. But then the author goes on to say that the great physicist was addressing his letter not to scientists or philosophers, but to a bereft family. “It’s a letter written to console a grieving sister,” he writes. “A gentle letter, alluding to the spiritual bond between Michele and Albert.” That sensitivity to the human condition is a constant presence in Rovelli’s book — a book that reviews all of the best scientific thinking about the perennial mystery of time, from relativity to quantum physics to the inexorable second law of thermodynamics. Meanwhile, he always returns to us frail human beings — we who struggle to understand not only the external world of atoms and galaxies but also the internal world of our hearts and our minds.