I was moved to begin reading this after I read an essay about the author written by his wife after his death from ALS at the age of 62. The book is aI was moved to begin reading this after I read an essay about the author written by his wife after his death from ALS at the age of 62. The book is a compilation/transcription of a series of conversations between the author and Timothy Snyder, each prominent historians, but of different generations. I consider it one of the top 5 books I've read this year. A challenging book to read if you're European history-challenged, like myself, but I could follow the line of reasoning and argument despite the unfamiliar territory. The book follows Tony's development from his early years growing up in a Marxist family, through his experience with Zionism and his education as a French intellectual. The Cold War years through the fall of the Berlin Wall all contribute to his exploration of liberalism and social democracy ideas, and he has become well-known for his brilliant and, at times, controversial historical writing. He puts each period of his life into a context of what was happening politically, economically, and socially, then discusses with Snyder the questions he was seeking to answer at that time and where his answers led him. Snyder does the job of drawing out and getting clarification for these ideas, and we are treated to a real sense of two amazing minds playing off each other.
I'm glad I read this book just for the glimpse into what being a historian is like, the purpose of history and what's possible with good scholarship and writing. I'm also thrilled that I was introduced to both these authors, and they have other books for me to check out....more
Quite a engaging and witty little book, with some quotable one-liners that make you think. I also appreciated the pointers to books and authors to reaQuite a engaging and witty little book, with some quotable one-liners that make you think. I also appreciated the pointers to books and authors to read that Hitchens points the reader towards. I chose to read this book in preparation for reading the much larger book of his essays With his recent death, I'm sure people will be revisiting his works even more. ...more
An easy to follow explanation of various "intellectual black holes" and how to craft an argument against the psuedo-thinking that creates them in theAn easy to follow explanation of various "intellectual black holes" and how to craft an argument against the psuedo-thinking that creates them in the first place. ...more
Hmmm.... thought-provoking book that starts with David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest as an example of postmodern nihilism and banality , then leapingHmmm.... thought-provoking book that starts with David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest as an example of postmodern nihilism and banality , then leaping backward to Greek polytheism with Homer and continuing on from there through Dante and Melville to examine how our culture got to where it is today.
An odd book to read if you're looking for a prescriptive map to a more meaningful life, because not until the last part of the book is there any meaningful push to take the insights from the reading of the Western canon to cultivate skills of transcendence, wisdom and community.
Infinite Jest is now on my nightstand, though, so I have to say the book succeeded in making this and the other books discussed more real to me. I think I have a stronger motivation to attempt these books after reading(listening) to this book. I also kept thinking that if I were studying any of this literature in a class, I would definitely want to review what this book brought out for some great discussion and research topics....more
Lots of layers to this book beyond the simple plot of two social misfits -- one a 54 year old French concierge in an upper-class apartment building, tLots of layers to this book beyond the simple plot of two social misfits -- one a 54 year old French concierge in an upper-class apartment building, the other the precocious 12 year old daughter of one of the families in the building -- discovering each other for the first time and finding themselves kindred souls.
Renee, the concierge, has gone to incredible lengths to hide her true intelligence and gifts in order to fit into the world around her. Paloma, the young girl, is the 'black sheep' in her Paris bourgeois family, extremely intelligent and witty, yet also a master of the art of self-preservation behind the mask of oddness and mediocrity.
The plot shifts from Renee's humorous, witty, satirical descriptions of the families in the building and the social dynamics playing out between them, to Paloma's journal entries on her plans to end her life on her 13th birthday because the futility of the social drama she sees played out around her seems too much to bear. Her journal is her attempt to record her profound thoughts and find a reason the world isn't as hopeless as it seems.
I was captivated by Renee's dissection of the social "theater" she sees every day, her explanations and philosophical arguments applied to art, literature, and the world. Paloma's journal hits the mark, too. Her journal entries can be both hilarious and sad at the same time. I found myself re-reading whole passages of this book because the insights were so accurate, yet put in a fresh, succinct perspective. Both characters have rational, philosophical views and I was often struck by their deep understanding of ideas and life.
I also categorized this book as armchair-travel because the description of French life and culture is so prevalent. I felt like I was visiting a real part of Paris, yet having my questions about the culture answered along the way. The language and voice of the book flows in such a beautiful way that it makes me wish I could read this book in the original French language.
This book reads like a fable, and I know I will be re-reading it to see what else I might uncover.
An in-depth exploration of the seven specific virtues advocated by Ayn Rand's egoism philosophy and the value basis of rational self-interest.
I thoughAn in-depth exploration of the seven specific virtues advocated by Ayn Rand's egoism philosophy and the value basis of rational self-interest.
I thought the book was extremely well-written and organized. The author took care to bring up counter-arguments and ways Rand's philosophy is misunderstood in relation to these virtues, then proceeds to logically defend Rand's ideas with clear references to what Rand actually wrote or said.
Reading the book has made me much more aware of how I define ethics and values for myself. I'm encouraged to become less reliant on "pithy" generalizations and oversimplification that seem to be prevalent these days in the media. I made lots of notes while reading this book because I was surprised at how little I had really thought about just what a value or a virtue is, or what justice means, for example.
The book is an example to me of good writing in philosophy. I plan on reading more of this author's books and looking up the sources she used. ...more