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John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand Hardcover – July 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843546434
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843546436
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 6.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,410,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"* 'Richard Reeves' sparkling new biography succeeds triumphantly. Practically every aspect of Mill's life and thought is freshly presented.' - John Gray, Independent * 'Gripping and authoritative... Liberty, individualism and imagination were the essence of Mill's thought, and now that Mill's liberalism seems to have finally run its course, Reeves spells out its implications with exemplary lucidity, thoroughness and brio.' - Hilary Spurling, Observer * 'Richard Reeves has assembled an impressive array of material and marshalled it with great style... the pace never slackens, the writing is slick and lucid.' - Phil Collins, Daily Telegraph * 'Through and sympathetic... meticulously explored... This is a masterpiece.' - Catholic Herald" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Richard Reeves is a leading social and political commentator, writing regularly for the Guardian, New Statesman, Observer, and Prospect. He is a former Columnist of the Year and Young Financial Journalist of the Year and has held research fellowships at the Institute for Public Policy Research and the University of London.

Customer Reviews

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A very good look back on the life of the famous public thinker and activist.
Christian Schlect
Even if you think you know Mill (Jr.) well you will gain a deeper appreciation of him by reading this book; and of the difficult art of biography.
Malkauns
Mr Reeves manages to succeed with his task magnificently throughout the 487 pages and the massive details contained in the notes afterwards.
Phillip Taylor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on November 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very good look back on the life of the famous public thinker and activist.

Richard Reeves provides the basic information necessary for a modern reader to understand John Stuart Mill's impact on his own age and afterwards, especially as related to the concept of personal liberty and the fight for women's rights. While his unusual personal life (e.g., an unequaled childhood education and a long love interest with a married woman who, upon widowhood, became his wife) is covered by Mr. Reeves, the main thrust of this book is Mill's thinking and actions related to the great liberal issues of 19th century Britain.

One area I did find lacking in Mr. Reeves' otherwise strong effort is the absent of analysis on Mill's direct impact on India given the subject of this biography's long career in a leadership post at the East India Company.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Harvestman on July 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
I cannot imagine the amount of effort it must have required to evaluate all the relevant material needed to write this book. Roland Barthes once quipped that a biography is a novel that dare not speak its name. If I had to name one biography that would make that aphorism less applicable, it would be this one. The second part of the book title might mislead one to think that this is a page turner, but it is not. When a thoroughly written book is written about a thoroughly reflective writer, the necessary exposition dilutes any feeling like suspense.

As the book reveals the flaws in some of Mill's statements, this book isn't a lengthy adulation, but it generally seems to be a gallant defense of Mill. This book sweeps away two of the lingering myths about JSM: the idea that he never said anything aphoristic and that he was emotionally numb.

The flaws in this book are minor overall. I point out that the endnotes and bibliography of the book are far more generous than the index. I cite this single example: One of the most memorable things that Mill ever said about conservatism (pp 374-375) can't be found using the index, even though the index makes eight other entries under 'conservatism' that reveal nothing as memorable as what can be found on those two pages. I also wish that the book had attempted to show more about Mill's stances on social issues that are still contentious in the current decade (like animal rights.) Unfortunately, the greater number of words are written about Mill's stances on issues that are nearly settled (slavery and women's suffrage.) I realize that the author's aim was to explain to readers how stances that are uncontroversial today are only so because of the earlier confrontation by thinkers like Mill.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. E. Leonard on September 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
Of late I have been in a bit of fix finding an author whose book I could read from beginning to end. Reeve put an end to this dilemma, and convincingly so! I always gravitated to Mill, but found myself over awed by an intellect that seemed bigger than life. Reeves unravels the complexity of the man by putting his philosophy and persona into discernible terms. He opens a window into the humanity which was the essence of John Stuart Mill, best captured in the revealing loving and tender correspondences with his wife, Harriet. Much too is brought to light of Mill the crusader, taking on the landed gentry for more equitable distribution of wealth, to his much ridiculed stance in promoting full equality for woman.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Taylor on December 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Although he was a Liberal, don't get confused by his `open-mindedness' when leading Victorian Liberal William Gladstone labelled the great John Stuart Mill. I suspect all students will have tremendous affection for Mill even though they may not care for liberals.

In this short review, I will concentrate on the value of the book for the jurisprudence undergraduate because Richard Reeves has produced the first proper and worthwhile study of Mill for 50 years which will be of great benefit to scholars aiming for a `First'.

The first thing to do is look at the index at the back because the fifteen chapters, plus the prologue and epilogue, give you the essence of the man as a human being whilst some careful cross-referencing with the likes of Bentham and Co. will give you your legal learning and quotes.
Look specifically at chapters 11(`On Liberty') and 12 (`To Hell I Will Go') because Reeves offers some useful twenty-first century quotable insights into our "Victorian Firebrand" and some of his overt political failings such as his opposition to the introduction of the secret ballot! Frankly, I have never thought of Mill as a firebrand as the world he left us with was unquestionably better for his efforts as Reeves acknowledges... and, as he concludes, it still is.

This masterly work gives Mill his proper place in jurisprudence and the wider field for his utilitarianism, described by Reeves as "a word with a divided personality, meaning one thing in common use and the opposite in formal philosophy".
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More About the Author

Richard Reeves is the author of presidential bestsellers, including President Nixon and President Kennedy, acclaimed as the best nonfiction book of the year by Time magazine. A syndicated columnist and winner of the American Political Science Association's Carey McWilliams Award, he lives in New York and Los Angeles.

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