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John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  105 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
The definitive life of John Stuart Mill, one of the heroic giants of Victorian England
Richard Reeves' sparkling new biography can be read as an attempt to do justice to this eminent thinker, and it succeeds triumphantly. He reveals Mill as a man of action—a philosopher and radical MP who profoundly shaped Victorian society and whose thinking continues to illuminate our ow
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Atlantic Books (first published 2007)
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Phillip Taylor
Sep 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all law students and Liberals
Recommended to Phillip by:

Yes, I believe JS Mill was “The most open-minded man in England” on reading this work.

However, although he was a Liberal, don’t get confused by his ‘open-mindedness’ when leading Victorian Liberal Gladstone labelled the great Mill. I suspect all students will have tremendous affection for Mill even though they may not care for liberals.

The first thing to do is look at the index at the back because the fifteen chapters, plus the prologue and epilogue, give you the essence of the man as a human be
Jackson Cyril
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Diderot is to have said of Leibniz that "Perhaps never has a man read as much, studied as much, meditated more, and written more than Leibniz" and concluded that "When one compares the talents one has with those of a Leibniz, one is tempted to throw away one's books and go die quietly in the dark of some forgotten corner." I contend the same can be said of J.S. Mill. Subject to an absolutely torturous educational regime by his father (He had read Plato in the original Greek while he was 6 years ...more
Daniel Carr
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant book that brings to life Mill's life as a philosopher and activist. Reeves gives a vivid account of Mill's life, concentrating on the contemporaries that influenced his thoughts, the intellectual development of his liberalism, and his activism within and outside of parliament.

What I really enjoyed was the Mill that Reeves brought to life: not an armchair philosopher, but a man who cared deeply about the injustices he saw (the plight of the Irish, inequality of the sexes, brutality i
J. Dunn
This is pretty much everything you could ask for in a biography of Mill. It covers the whole spectrum, from his personal life to his work to the intellectual and political contexts in which he did it, and does so with sympathy and verve. You could do much worse for a history of the progress and development of liberal reform in Victorian England, which is appropriate since his ideas were so central to it. What's unique here is that the author makes it clear that Mill was much more than a man of i ...more
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I feel diminished after reading this tremendous book which is a biography of the life and thinking of a colossus. A liberal it is Liberty and Feminism which mark him out but there was so much more to the man.
Feb 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
This biography is the only work on the subject I have read which brings out the warm humanity of J.S. Mill (as opposed to the austere dry Victorian and Utilitarian stereotype most people have) which underlies his Liberalism and advocacy of the franchise for women.
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
John Stuart Mill is an inspiring figure, and this is a first-rate biography. I knew he was a major 19th century public intellectual, but I had no idea what an intriguing personality he was as well. Well worth reading.
Jun 18, 2009 marked it as to-read
Shelves: failed-to-finish
Very slow progress I'm afraid.
Sep 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
I found Mill to be less firebrand and more Victorian, and thus only made it a quarter of the way through. Bentham sounded like a real character, though.
Luis Concepcion
Apr 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Every philosopher should receive such a thorough and balanced treatment. A bit more detail than I think was necessary, but overall a great book.
Aug 13, 2009 rated it liked it
filling in a great gap in my knowledge of Victorian thought and politics and history
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Richard Reeves, the bestselling author of such books as President Kennedy: Profile in Power, is an award-winning journalist who has worked for The New York Times, written for The New Yorker, and served as chief correspondent for Frontline on PBS. Currently the senior lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, he lives in Los Angeles.
More about Richard Reeves...