Mike Moore's Reviews > Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers

Wittgenstein's Poker by David Edmonds
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M 50x66
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Sep 08, 2010

really liked it

I don't like Simon Winchester. I respect what he tries to do, I don't begrudge him his success, but I don't like his books. I mention this because Wittgenstein's Poker is a perfect example of what I wish Winchester's books would be like. The similarities are fairly striking: historical central characters with strong and belligerent personalities, a historical backdrop that mixes the commonplace with legends of days gone by, large and small events tied together by a narrative that is as much character study as it is a sequence of events. It's just like a Winchester book, but this one I like.

Perhaps it's the restraint shown by the authors regarding potentially titillating minutia. Perhaps its that they manage to convey the historical characters without descending into hero worship. Perhaps its their ability to focus on the tension between the two men, rather than on the men themselves (iconic though they are). These are all tricks that Winchester would probably not even think of pulling off.

Whatever the reasons, I enjoyed and would highly recommend this book both to those who read philosophy (to get a view of the background of these two great thinkers) and to those who don't (to get an idea of how people can get so worked up about abstract and sometimes trivial distinctions, and why they're not necessarily wrong to do so).
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