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I Am Dynamite!: A Life of Nietzsche

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  1,383 ratings  ·  231 reviews
A groundbreaking new biography of philosophy's greatest iconoclast

Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most enigmatic figures in philosophy, and his concepts--the �bermensch, the will to power, slave morality--have fundamentally reshaped our understanding of the human condition. But what do most people really know of Nietzsche--beyond the mustache, the scowl, and the lingeri
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Tim Duggan Books (first published October 4th 2018)
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Richard Crowder It does--it will give you a good sense of whether you want to read Nietzsche himself.

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Nietzsche is now preceded by his reputation to such a monstrous extent that it takes a bit of an effort to overcome all the received wisdom – which in my case was the only wisdom I had, having read only one of his books and virtually nothing else about him. Oh yeah, Nietzsche, wasn't he a bit right-wing? Tooled around with a terrific stare, declaiming things about the death of god? Women hated him, Nazis loved him? Something like that…?

He comes across in this fascinating biography as a smart, un
Great fun. A very lively book, with some dramatic passages. Perhaps it is slightly awkward that Nietzsche was much less colourful than the people he interacted with, so the shining stars of this biography are the Wagners (view spoiler) , Lou Salome, Strindberg, and even Nietzsche's sister who on account of being the unpleasant kind of person that you would not ...more
Erik Graff
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Nietzsche fans
Recommended to Erik by: the publisher
Shelves: biography
When asked for recommendations by those unversed in philosophy I most commonly recommend Plato and Nietzsche. Both are enduringly popular. Both are immediately accessible. Though often misinterpreted, both also describe the antipodes of Western philosophy: the metaphysical and the anti-metaphysical, the classical religious and the modern secular ideals.

As the Church has misappropriated Plato for its purposes, so much of the abuse of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) stemmed from the decades of con
Michael Perkins
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fabulous essay by Christopher Hitchens about Nietzsche...


The author explains the origins of Zarathustra....

Why did Nietzsche choose Zarathustra? Zarathustra, also called Zoroaster, was a Persian prophet who probably lived some time between the twelfth and sixth centuries before Christ. Zarathustra presented a key to the problem of evil that could never be answered by Judaism, Christianity or Islam, whose all-powerful gods were all-good. In Z
Biblio Curious
A book like this needs to be composed like music. All the elements must be gently pulled in so the main themes can shine through. Prideaux accomplishes this with such great finesse.

Essentially, this book has 3 main threads that she stays true to for the entire biography:
*Chronology of Nietzsche's Life, filled with colourful details.
*An Intellectual History of his Philosophical Development, flooded with bookish details.
*Historical Context as it Relates to Nietzsche, with the goal of setting the
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A mostly captivating biography of a widely misunderstood man. I am left with the impression of a solitary, lonely and confused soul wandering about, moving from place to place, in search of belonging and fleeing his oppressive mother and sister. There are brief intervals of reciprocity with Wagner and Lou Salome but in the end he is a man very much alone. Next time I pick up a book he wrote I will approach it with a deepened understanding of the origins of his ideas.
Morgan Blackledge
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Modernity’s Timeline:

Pre Modernity: Abrahamic religions envelop the western world in intellectual darkness. Billions die in crusades, genocides, inquisitions, witch hunts and wholy wars.

1859: Darwin accidentally kills god.

1867: Marx tries to figure it all out by deconstructing and rationalizing systems of material production and governance. Stalin gets ahold of it and around 20 million people end up dead.

1886: Nietzsche tries to figure it all out by deconstructing and rationalizing systems of m
Sep 19, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk, politics, germany
English: I Am Dynamite!: A Life of Nietzsche
This book is no doubt super interesting and written in an immersive manner, but while I'm happy I received an ARC, it was in a format that can only be read via Adobe Digital Editions - meaning on the screen, and the book has 700+ pages. So I will buy the hardcover instead: By skimming the pages to get an impression, I saw that this text is certainly worthwhile.
"'I am frightened,' Nietzsche had written, 'by the thought of what unqualified and unsuitable people may invoke my authority one day. Yet that is the torment of every great teacher of mankind: he knows that, given the circumstances and the accidents, he can become a disaster as well as a blessing to mankind.'" (374-5)
Ironically, Nietzsche wrote these words in a letter to his sister Elizabeth, who, as Prideaux painfully shows, abused her brother and his thought more than anyone else—associating i
C. Quabela
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Nietzsche was the primary philosopher who inspired me to pursue the field. Not that he offers a (coherent) belief system or ready-to-hand tools for life, but he does provide the type of critical perspective necessary to begin questioning one’s life. His thought has so much become a part of my own that whenever I revisit his works I find aphorisms that mirror my own dispositions in ways I never realized had sunk in. I feel, as do many who have been inspired by him, an emotional connection with hi ...more
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had not read a full biography of Nietzsche before. I had tried to work through some of his major works in college and knew of the odd course that his writings had taken after his death, but lack any sense of a life trajectory. That always struck me as odd for a philosopher/essayist who has proven to be so influential. Sue Prideaux has written a readable and engaging biography of Nietzsche that has helped to fill these holes for me.

Having said this, I do not know that I am much clearer about ac
Paul Ataua
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it
A little too much life and too little thought for me, though, of course, one should expect that to be the core of a biography. The life part never seemed to get close enough to him, and the thought was just too far away. That he was taken to a brothel and played piano there, that he probably didn't have syphilis, and that Wagner wrote a letter to his doctor which seemed to have led to the breakdown in their friendship are not really tidbits. Yes, there were things of interest and in the end, it ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a really well-written and vivid memoir of Nietzsche and his legacy. He was a weird and really smart dude. The manner of his decline and death was tragic, but not as tragic as the misuse of his core ideas by the Nazis. Prideaux makes the compelling case that it was his sister that twisted his legacy and that Nietzsche himself would have been appalled
carl  theaker
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, ww2, artsy
Yes I too thought, oh a book about a philosopher, reading that would be like eating breakfast cereal without milk, but I still picked “I am Dynamite”, the title encouraged me, off the new book shelf at the library and thank goodness the author writes in a lively style, bringing out all the personalities of the various characters and boy, are there some.

Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche were contemporaries who I hadn’t realized, were also close friends for many years, though Wagner was twice
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
"One might reject science as faith; one might reject religious faith itself but still retain moral values. First, man must become himself. Secondly, amor fati; he must accept what life brings, avoiding the blind alleys of self-hatred and ressentiment. Then finally man can overcome himself to find true fulfilment as the ubermensch, the man at peace with himself, finding joy in his earthly purpose, rejoicing in the sheer magnificence of existence and content with the finitude of his mortality.
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
I’m glad I broke my rule against biographies and read this book. I needed a context and continuity for properly understanding Nietzsche, and this biography gave it to me. I generally don’t like biographies because as Nietzsche said about thought since Socrates it’s just a collection of facts, or in my words like stamp collecting, and biographies often miss the cohesion by dwelling on the facts or describing a person’s life as if they were stamps in a collection isolated from the real world. This ...more
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love getting to know Nietzsche the man of suffering, in the context of his own family, Pastor Karl and everybody who who had to deal with mental disorders in some form or another. To reduce Nietzsche to a famous quote such as God is dead is plain shallow and ignoramous because context is everything. The more I read about his life the more I feel like I am part of a German family who never chose pain in the first place, and yet we naively keep asking them, “why aren’t you smiling? Smile, becaus ...more
Ashley Adams
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The new biography on Nietzsche by Sue Prideaux is fabulously readable! Concise and entertaining.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it
There is a lot of good to be found in this book, primarily the emphasis on Nietzsche's movements and prominent figures in his life. Don't take this to be a comprehensive introduction to his thinking, however. Prideaux seems more concerned with telling us what Nietzsche was doing than what he was thinking, or how those thoughts turned him into one of the greatest philosophers of our time. The book seems primarily concerned with the data of its subject rather than his character, though there are f ...more
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite simply a stunning book. Couldn’t put it down. Nietzsche is such a complex and misunderstood figure, a kind of bogeyman to throw around to give the appearance of heft to one’s knowledge.

This book puts the historical record centre stage and cuts through so much propaganda, fiction and strawman-ery (esp from his sister Elizabeth and the Nazis) back.

A brilliant book about a brilliant but truly tragic figure.
Steve Hahn
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jay Green
I think it was Flaubert who said "Live like a bourgeois so you can write like a bohemian," or words to that effect. Never was such advice followed so assiduously as it was by Nietzsche who, if Sue Prideaux's book is to believed, managed to spend his entire existence without encountering a single episode of adventure or excitement. Sure, there are adventures of the mind, of familial and emotional turmoil, of intellectual conflict and dialectic, but by and large his life seems to have been one of ...more
James Earle
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like many, I remember having a very undisciplined fascination with Nietzche during my early undergraduate years that functionally manifested itself in my picking up Thus Spake Zarathustra or Beyond Good and Evil from time to time, reading for an hour or two, and then thinking of myself as a very free thinker.

It was great to read this biography and dispel all the half-truths I thought I knew about him. It was a book I didn’t know I wanted to read until I started reading it. Nietzsche's name, as
Noah Goats
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've long disliked Nietzsche because of the terrible damage his ideas wreaked on the 20th century, but I love Sue Prideaux's book about him. She paints a portrait of a highly sympathetic Nietzsche, a man who struggled against the ingrained biases of his day as well as his own constant physical suffering. She humanizes the man who wanted to leave humanity behind and who thought that ideals like altruism and democracy were just relics of the "slave morality" forced on Europe by Christianity.

It's t
Andrea Thompson Guiza
When I started this book I was in the search of answers to very particular questions:

Nietzsche is often cited as one of the precursors to existentialist thought and philosophy, why?

Nietzsche's philosophy is often mentioned as a foundational pillar of the Third Reich and Hitler's personal ideology, why? Was Nietzche an anti-semite? Was his philosophy misconstrued, as some object? Or was it blatant?

When he isn't being linked with the blood and soil drivel of the Third Reich, then he is written o
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
As someone who had only heard about Nietzsche this biography of him was very enlightening. Prideaux has done a good job of portraying the man and exploring his works. Her writing style makes the information on complex issues very readable.

I had no idea that Nietzsche's father went mad at age 35 and that Nietzsche feared the same for himself. Nietzsche did go mad at age 44 and remained so until his death twelve years later. I was surprised by the vision he had at age twelve, making such an impres
Justin Evans
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Horrible title, fabulous cover, very enjoyable book. Prideaux writes well, she has a great eye for the important details and for knowing what can be left out, and a flare for narrative. Her destruction of Elisabeth Nietzsche is glorious; her writing on Friedrich is obviously even-handed, since I thought this was a solid, much-needed hatchet job, but Prideaux herself seems to think she was showing the enduring appeal and importance of his ideas. The utter absurdity of much of Nietzsche's thinking ...more
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. I heard the Audible version, and I would highly recommend it. This book is so entertaining, interesting and fascinating. I liked the narration a lot. And this book gives a great context to read Nietzsche. I have read his works like 3 years back, but now I would like to re-read all of them to make sense of them!
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy, biography
I found this book somewhat frustrating, as I'd been hoping for a deeper penetration of the philosopher's psyche. I don't know to what extent that this is even possible, but given Nietzsche's own very personal and emotional writings, I have a feeling Prideaux could gone deeper. ...more
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first thing one might mention regarding Sue Prideaux’s 2018 biography of Friedrich Nietzsche is that it is a hoot. This is a kind of vernacular (perhaps especially Canadian) way of saying that it is a lot of fun to read. You would not call I AM DYNAMITE! dry. It is a book engineered so as to glide, its readability perhaps its most distinctive feature. I lack the imagination sufficient to conceive of a person capable of finding it alienating or punishing or anything of the kind. You do not re ...more
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Sue Prideaux is an English novelist and biographer. She has strong links to Norway and her godmother was painted by Edvard Munch, whose biography she later wrote under the title Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream. Prior to taking up writing she trained as an art historian in Florence, Paris, and London.

(from Wikipedia)

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  If you listen to NPR regularly, you’ve likely heard the voice of Shankar Vedantam, the longtime science correspondent and host of the radio...
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“When I was twelve years old I conjured up for myself a marvelous trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Devil. My deduction was that God, thinking himself, created the second person of the godhead, but that to be able to think himself he had to think his opposite, and thus had to create it.—That is how I began to philosophize.” 4 likes
“People who think deeply feel themselves to be comedians in their relationship with others because they first have to simulate a surface in order to be understood.” 3 likes
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