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Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth Paperback – September 29, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Original edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596914521
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596914520
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description
This exceptional graphic novel recounts the spiritual odyssey of philosopher Bertrand Russell. In his agonized search for absolute truth, Russell crosses paths with legendary thinkers like Gottlob Frege, David Hilbert, and Kurt Gödel, and finds a passionate student in the great Ludwig Wittgenstein. But his most ambitious goal--to establish unshakable logical foundations of mathematics--continues to loom before him. Through love and hate, peace and war, Russell persists in the dogged mission that threatens to claim both his career and his personal happiness, finally driving him to the brink of insanity.

Take a Look Inside
The creators of Logicomix introduce us to Bertrand Russell in 1939 during one of his public lectures. Russell explores the question, "What is logic?" by telling the story of "one of [logic’s] most ardent fans"--himself. The panels that follow (click each image to see the full page) reimagine the life of a brilliant young man with a passion for mathematics.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. An ambitious full-color exploration of the life and ideas of philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell, the book meticulously interconnects Russell's life, the timelessness of his ideas and the process of creating the book. While a comic about the quest for the foundations of mathematics may seem arduous, it is engrossing on many levels; the story moves, despite heavy philosophical and technical information, as the images, dialogue and narration play off each other. Russell's story is framed within a speech he gave on the brink of America's entry into WWII, in which he expounds his life and philosophical journey. Russell's story is also framed by the creators working in Greece, as they discuss and mold his life into a narrative structure. One of the most prominent themes is the conflict and symbiosis between madness and logic. The fear of madness haunts Russell because of childhood trauma, as he neurotically pushes himself toward what he conceives of as its opposite, a system for certainty. Inventive, with both subtle and overt narrative techniques, the comic form organizes the complex ideas into a simpler system, combining to form a smart and engaging journey through the ambiguity of truth. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

End of story.
Arnie Tracey
Logicomix is a graphic novel of the story of Bertrand Russell's pursuit of the "foundations of mathematics."
Paige Turner
I don't even like math very much, and I had a lot of fun reading this book.
one mom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

108 of 112 people found the following review helpful By P. Wung VINE VOICE on July 25, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a big fan of Doxiadi's book on Goldbach conjecture :Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture: A Novel of Mathematical Obsession.

This book is very different, in manifold ways. The previous book was a novel wrapped around a mathematical idea. In the process of telling a story, Doxiadis explained the mathematical problem. It was pretty straight forward - not the problem, the approach. But this book is a tutorial on logic, a historical review of the most dramatic development in logic, a chronological synopsis of how higher mathematics, philosophy and logic became intertwined and coupled. AND, the book did this in a comic book format. The approach is, of course very ambitious. The question then is: was it successful?

This may seem cowardly, but it does echo the book's conclusion: it is really up to the reader.

The book poses the question early on: pure logic will lead a rational person to a right conclusion to a difficult moral problem, in this case, whether Britain should enter into WWII against Hitler. The entire book then is predicated upon the literary mechanism to introduce a wide spanning discourse on the development of 20th century logic, the narrative is taken through all of its twists and turns by the narrator in the form of Bertrand Russell, with occasional self referencing vignettes of the writing and drawing teams of this book.

Russell is a natural choice, and his life in the higher altitude work in philosophy and mathematics really fits in nicely with the history of the logical arguments.
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187 of 217 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous VINE VOICE on August 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
While it's a pleasant and quick read, this book's execution hardly lives up to the promise of its brilliant and appealing concept (nor to its "epic" subtitle). Rather than a tightly structured comic-book intellectual biography of Bertrand Russell, this is a scattered mess of a book with too many (albeit quite promising) ideas and much too little successful execution. The book is simply trying to be too many things at once:

First, and most successfully, it wants to be an introduction to the "foundations" of mathematics, the early-20th-century efforts by philosophers and mathematicians to provide a firm axiomatic ground on which to establish a base for the higher-flown efforts of mathematics, which resulted in the development of mathematical logic and thus eventually led to the digital computer. The book gives even a lay reader enough little nuggets of this field to pique their interest, though often it doesn't explain in much depth. And the exposition does sometimes come off a bit condescending, as if the authors didn't trust us to follow them into a truly complex field like set theory.

And, furthermore and far worse, the book often doesn't even try to take advantage of its format by developing the ideas in image form -- instead it gives page after solid page of hastily-drawn panels of Russell (or the authors themselves!) lecturing the reader in massive word balloons, wasting all the opportunities afforded by its comic-book form. Still, had the book remained on the level of a "Russell for Beginners"-type introductory comic, it would have been a fair piece of work.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Dick Johnson VINE VOICE on July 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Dateline Wales: Unusual seismic activity has been reported in the mountains. Reports have been received of areas seemingly 'turning over'. One eye-witness remarked about it being connected with Bertrand Russell's ashes being scattered in the mountains nearly 40 years ago and a new book being released about him - and it's a Comic Book!

The thought of Bertrand Russell and comic book being used together is strange. I am using "comic book" because the authors continually used it. It was only in the end notes that "graphic novel" was used by them.

There was a very good balance between the art and the text - neither overshadowed the other. The interludes to advance the story were also well done.

Though some fiction was employed, this is a very well developed thumb-nail sketch of Russell and his life until the start of World War II. The inclusion of others active in the fields of logic, mathematics and philosophy helped to display both those who influenced Russell and those whose works were influenced by him.

I was fortunate to have 'discovered' Russell, through his "History of Western Philosophy", while he was still alive (he died in 1970). Though his appearances on television were few, it was always fascinating to see anything by him or about him. Having this book develop through one of his public appearances was a clever touch that worked well.

Like most, I didn't agree with him on everything, and I certainly didn't understand a lot that he wrote. I did, though, recognize genius, and the haggling was over the details. Both his professional life and personal life were filled with controversy.

He was one of those who could be described as "bigger than life".
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