Probably the easiest introduction to existentialism you'll ever find, Sartre in 90 Minutes
manages to produce an intellectually credible--and slyly humorous--summary of Jean Paul Sartre's life and work in just over 70 pages. Paul Strathern ably shifts from descriptions of the open relationship between Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir to analyses of the contributions of Heidegger and Kierkegaard to Sartre's belief that life is what you make it. The jokes tend to be cynical and snarky in tone; after the publication of Being and Nothingness
, for example, "word soon began to spread from the few who actually read the book to those who wished to talk about it as if they had." The philosophical exegesis, however, is spot on, the equivalent of a very good college lecture by an instructor who genuinely wants to make sure students understand the material. If you're at all interested in Sartre and existentialism, pick this book up for a quick, painless introduction.
"Dr. Strathern manages to make philosophic peaks clear-and philosophers human....Miraculously succinct, informative and valuable books." -- Otto Scott's Compass, 1/1/97
"Each of these little books is witty and dramatic and creates a sense of time, place, and character....I cannot think of a better way to introduce oneself and one's friends to Western civilization." -- Katherine A. Powers, Boston Globe 10/20/96
"I find them hard to stop reading....Mr. Strathern's books are well-written, clear and informed; they have a breezy wit about them....Good enough for them to provide genuine education." -- Richard Bernstein, New York Times, 7/2/98
"Witty, illuminating, and blessedly concise." -- Jim Holt, Wall Street Journal, 3/18/97