on January 13, 2004
Paul Strathern in his short little tome on Friedrich Nietzsche manages to say almost nothing that is neccessary to justify the ambitious title of this book or the Publisher's claim that Strathern deciphers "philosophical thought in [an] entertaining and accessible fashion...making it comprehensible and interesting to almost everyone." On page 54, for instance, he writes: "The parable of Zarathustra is childishly simple, and on reflection it remains so. Yet its message is profound despite this." This is the sort of gibberish that infects his analysis in the eight-page section entitled Key Philosophical Concepts. Indeed, his insights are worthy of a contemporary journalist and just as depthless. Almost anyone involved in the discipline of Philosophy could have informed Strathern of the true merits of the above statement, but Starthern, although he has "lectured" in philosophy and mathematics according to the Author Blurb at the end of the book, apparently had no one reliable at hand to perform this service or to question his many demeaning and snide remarks about Nietzsche's work and his Philosophy. Psychologically, of course, this can be explained by the blurb previously sited which indicate's that Strathern has lectured in both Philosophy and Mathematics. He was undoubtedly more suited to being a professor of Math than Philosophy to judge from the quote just mentioned. The other Reviewer here who mentions his comments on page 52 about Eternal Recurrence is absolutely correct in their analysis but doesn't really go far enough in denouncing this rubbish. This is the sort of book dishonest publisher's foist on the unsuspecting public (and students) in the hope of fleecing them of their coin, albeit very little in this case. In spite of this one cannot rebuke the Publisher or Strathern enough for their part in this micro-atrocity. Nietzsche is the single most important philospher of the last two hundred years and he deserves more than this philstine treatment with its merde spread from cover to cover like a Tom Wolfe op-ed piece for the February edition of the New Yorker Magazine. Stay away from this silly book and don't waste your money or your time (as I did). Read Nietzsche the Philosopher instead or Kaufmann's book (as I am now doing) for a better overview than you'll ever get here. There. I've said enough. You get the picture.
on July 1, 2002
If you know absolutely nothing about Nietzsche, this book will help you get your feet wet. It cannot be the only book you learn from, but it is certainly helpful to the beginner. If you're a college student in a rush to whip up a paper, consider yourself [in bad shape].
Strathern gives a fairly decent account of Nietzsche's life, and rather unfortunately, it takes up most of the book. Nietzsche's concepts are given a meager eight pages leaving readers feeling unsure as to what Nietzsche really wanted to say. The author also doesn't elaborate on Nietzsche's concepts at all. The idea of Eternal Recurrence is very thin and bare, and the concept of the Superman is hardly laid out at all. There is no way anyone can understand the Superman from reading this book. I found that readers may feel stuck if they don't know Nietzsche's predecessors (Hegel, Schopenhauer) as Strathern assumes the reader knows these characters already.
While the title is a misnomer (you can easily fit this in during your lunch break), it's a good refresher on Nietzsche's life and basic concepts. I do recommend reading more of the philosopher's works, as this book in no way covers it all.
on July 22, 2007
If you are looking for an excellent, effective way to sidestep Nietzsche's critical imperative to examine our motives, reconsider the truthfulness of the establishments around us, and, in spite of all, muster all the strength we possibly can to affirm ourselves and life, this is a must-read. Nietzsche's philosophy is inconvenient and disruptive to the certainty with which we live our lives. Unless you can laugh, feel, question, see the irony in everything you do and simultaneously act with integrity and conviction while respecting that which is necessary and lawful in the world, Nietzsche is not for you. If you are incapable of any of those things or are so self-ashamed that you will never be capable of those things, I command that you read this book so you can promptly return to your tidy, systematic life. However, if you have the time and courage to read these books, I would start with either "Beyond Good and Evil" or "The Gay Science"-- preferably the Kaufmann edition.
on December 1, 2003
Paul Strathern is to philosophy as Sparknotes are to Literature. He has taken complex ideas and condesced them into a paragraph or so. Philosophy majors can debate if this is a good or bad thing. The book defanitly forfills its purpose, a brief thourough introduction to Nietzsche.
The book is divided into three useful sections; the first is Nietzsche's life and works, the second is Nietzsche's key philosophical concpets and the third is the section entitled From Nietzsche's Writings. The most helpful was the second section, which explains oft-tedious concepts in a simple manner.
This book, or series, works magic for essays and position papers. Again, if its a deep understanding of Nietzsche that is desired, this is not the best choice. If its a basic understanding of his ideas, then by all means have at this book.
on April 26, 2003
Well, Strathern is certainly entertaining, if not informative. He gives us the dirt on each philosopher, tells us who was overweight, cheap, pushed people around, etc. This would be great if we were reading about movie stars or politicians but I bought these books in order to understand something about what these philosophers thought. He does reserve a few pages at the end of each volume to tells us one or two of their ideas and gives us a handful of quotes. A total waste of money unless you hate your philosophy classes so much that you want to hear how awful the personal lives of the philosophers were. A new low in publishing.