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Bertrand Russell: A Life Hardcover – October 1, 1993

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1st American Ed edition (October 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067085008X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670850082
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,461,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this brilliant, highly entertaining biography, the most intimate portrait of Russell (1872-1970) to date, Moorehead ( Freya Stark ) gives full play to the contradictory strains of the austere philosopher, passionate romantic, indignant moralist, free-love advocate, socialist proselytizer and implacable foe of the Soviet Union. While not neglecting Russell's achievements as prophet of liberal humanism, mathematician, pacifist, educational reformer, advocate of world government and antinuclear activist, Moorehead is especially strong in exploring his traumatic childhood (both parents died before his fourth birthday), his four marriages and many affairs, and his friendships or entanglements with D. H. Lawrence, Joseph Conrad, Katherine Mansfield, T. S. Eliot and many others. We meet a man who, time and again, ruthlessly severed himself from his past and from those he once loved, an "old-fashioned liberal at heart" whose radical stances often made him a force for progressive change. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Readers today who remember Russell for his War Crimes Tribunal, which condemned America's involvement in Vietnam, and for his popular History of Western Philosophy , may not realize that he was among the most significant philosophers of the 20th century--a far-ranging thinker whose Principia Mathematica , written with Alfred North Whitehead, was one of the first major advances in logic since Aristotle. Moorehead's entertaining biography won't clarify the many strands of Russell's thought, but she presents a smooth, detailed overview of his life. Perhaps she becomes a bit sketchy toward the end--any biographer would be exhausted by Russell's ceaseless writing and crusading, as well as his numerous affairs and four marriages--but her work ultimately provides a solid background for anyone interested in Russell or more generally in British cultural history. Recommended for most libraries.
- Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Larry N. Stout on November 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I think the word "vacant" is misapplied to this informative book about one of the world's great thinkers. Perfection is not to be found in any biography. Seeing that people never fully understand or explain themselves, how can anyone else do it? I'd say this bio is a creditable approximation, and well worth reading.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rerevisionist on July 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
About 25 years after Russell's Autobiography, and nearly 20 after Clark's, by the time this book was written (at a suggestion - it wasn't a spontaneous decision) the McMaster Archives were well established. These may have included newspaper cuttings - this is not clear, but seems likely. Moorehead supplemented this with papers (Moore, Keynes etc) and interviews with survivors of those who knew Russell. The result is a sort of composite book: the main lines are as in Russell's Autobiography - upbringing, Cambridge, WW1, USSR, China, 1930s school, WW2, nuclear weapons, Vietnam War. And of course his books. Much of this material is simply taken from Russell. These main lines are interspersed with a multiplicity of affairs, of a sort vaguely reminiscent of some Internet activity now. Some women loved Russell all their lives, though it's not entirely easy to see why, as it's clear few of them were interested in his ideas. I suspect, though nobody ever says this, that it was his aristocratic side which attracted them - after all many adults found Princess Diana a swooningly attractive figure; why not something analogous? In a sense, Moorehead is in this same groupie category. Her comments on his mathematics, relativity, atoms and so on aren't even dutiful: she simply quotes the received views as briefly as possible, without the slightest interest or sign of comprehension. Similarly with related ideas - for example, Keynes and economics. And the same applies to politics and protest. She says nothing intelligent about the USSR. She says absolutely nothing about the ideas in Russell's Reith Lectures, essentially on world government. She is saddened by Russell getting worked up over war crimes - surely he could have been more moderate! Moorehead evidently has no clue about atrocities etc.Read more ›
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