From Kirkus Reviews
The very first sentence of this whimsical introduction to Irish philosopher Berkeley (16851753) gives away the game: Strathern (Foucault in 90 Minutes
, see below) declares that Berkeley's work is ludicrous and gives philosophy a bad name. Eventually he backpedals and finds a few positive insights lurking in the murk of Berkeley's tortured lucubrations, but he can't quite bring himself to take the bishop seriously all the same--which is just as well for us. In between amusing but unconnected anecdotes about Berkeley's life, Strathern does manage to touch on the philosopher's most famous idea (that the material world didn't exist)--although he can't refute it quite so well as Samuel Johnson did (by rolling a large stone into Berkeley's path). Although he does not consider any other 18th-century thinkers in detail (Adam Smith is briefly mentioned), Strathern does touch upon Berkeley's friendship with Jonathan Swift. Presumably intended for college students who can't be bothered to read primary sources, Strathern's quixotic portrait isn't likely to improve their grades--although it will certainly provide a laugh or two. -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Well-written, clear and informed, they have a breezy wit about them...I find them hard to stop reading. (Richard Bernstein The New York Times
Witty, illuminating, and blessedly concise. (Jim Holt The Wall Street Journal
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 The Boston Globe
A godsend in this era of the short attention span. (Daryl Royster Alexander The New York Times