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Half Hours with the Best Thinkers Hardcover – October 12, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gramercy; 1ST edition (October 12, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517204320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517204320
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,777,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anthony G Pizza VINE VOICE on November 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This collection attempts in little over 300 pages to introduce history's most notable, influential works in economics (Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill), politics (Thomas Paine, Karl Marx), politics (Nicolo Machiavelli, Jean-Jacques Rosseau) and human wisdom (Confucius, Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas, Nietschze).
Editor Frank Finnemore successfully chose the most significant portions of these classics in sections no longer than 20 pages. These allow the reader to start at any point, quickly and accurately capturing the pieces' spirit and influence. (Some readings may need re-reading to fully understand and will take longer than the advertised half-hour.) But if anything, Finnemore steps too far back; he presents one-paragraph biographies of his choice authors, then rolls out their works without explaining their influence to their times and each other.
William James references Mill, Rosseau criticizes Christianity for teaching submissiveness, Kant references Descartes and, in turn, "Critique of Pure Reason" is referenced throughout each new philosophy study up to "Beyond Good and Evil." Reading Thomas Jeffererson's "Declaration of Independence against Paine's "The Rights of Man," allows a sense of the uniquely American enlightenment in America's first century, producing these and the spirit behind Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience." Lacking an historical timeline joining these disparate, influential voices misses the chance to understand their gradual evolution. (Speaking of evolution, it may surprise many to know Charles Darwin's argument against Creation theory was not one against a Creator's existence.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Maxwell on June 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I've been trying to slug through Half Hours With the Best Thinkers. It basically consists of excerpts from works by Confucius, Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, etc. This was a mistake: while I've read some of the works included here, and was just hoping to discover some others that appealed to me, jumping in the middle isn't conducive to that like I had hoped it would be. The "mental whiplash" between one reading to another is just too great for me. I need time to find the rhythm of the writing, to really be able to follow the flow of the writer's thoughts. And each excerpt really isn't half an hour long (except for some of the more convoluted writings, like Aquinas's). Somebody else might enjoy it, but not me.
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