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Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to His Life and Work Paperback – February 1, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; First Edition edition (February 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585425435
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585425433
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #549,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A founding member of the rock band Blondie (he's a prolific writer on esoterica and the occult, too) brings one of the twentieth century's most enigmatic figures to life. Architect, artist, teacher, agriculturalist, philosopher--Steiner was all those and remains known for many things. He was founder of the Waldorf schools, an alternative education system still in practice throughout the world; a leader of the popular occult movement, theosophy; and founder of the metaphysical teaching called anthroposophy. Rather the stereotypical intellectual, especially in his youth, Steiner was quiet, possessed of a very rich inner life, and admittedly found dealing with the external world difficult. Lachman calls him a visionary and something of a Renaissance man, with many interests (too many, thought critics, who accused him of dilettantism) and unflagging energy. If some of his theories were goofy, Lachman sees beyond them to point out his very real contributions to the world of ideas during his rise from obscure scholar to spiritual leader. A solid introduction to Steiner's life and thought. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


'Lachman brings one of the twentieth century's most enigmatic figures to life. A solid introduction to Steiner's life and thought.' -- Booklist 'Lachman's colourful decriptions of Steiner's student days are one of many small details that make this book not only a very enjoyable read but also help to bring Rudolf Steiner alive as a human being in a way that I have seldom come across ... The book gives serious and thoughtful attention to Rudolf Steiner's inner life, his supersensible experiences, and the unfolding of his mission ... What I also admired in this book is that despite the fact that Lachman is clearly coming from a position of great admiration and respect, he is not afraid to ask a few awkward questions, and in so doing to gently rock the anthroposophical boat.' -- Jonathan Stedall, New View, Summer 2007 'A very accessible account of the life and work of a philosopher and spiritual teacher whose writings often seem more difficult of access ... Lachman's sympathetic, but not uncritical, account of his life is to be recommended to anyone who wishes to be better informed about this gifted and remarkable man.' -- Kevin Tingay, The Christian Parapsychologist, December 2007 '[Gary Lachman] has rendered a great service to Steiner and his movement, as only a critical outsider could do. He deftly weaves together life and thought, skilfully navigating through the more controversial aspects of his teaching while leaving the reader free to decide their significance. The result is a rounded and fair portrait which can be thoroughly recommended to the general reader.' -- Scientific and Medical Network Review, Winter 2007 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Gary Lachman (1955- ) was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, but has lived in London, England since 1996. A founding member of the rock group Blondie, he is now a full time writer with more than a dozen books to his name, on topics ranging from the evolution of consciousness and the western esoteric tradition, to literature and suicide, and the history of popular culture. Lachman writes frequently for many journals in the US and UK, and lectures on his work in the US, UK, and Europe.His work has been translated into several languages. His website is

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 24 customer reviews
He was one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century.
Justin Ritchie
It serves as an excellent introduction to the man and the essential scope of his work, putting both in the context of the intellectual currents of the times.
D. Hindes
That being said, I nevertheless regard "Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to His Life and Work" as a good and interesting read.
Ashtar Command

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Mark Newbold on February 26, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book will become the definitive book to introduce Rudolf Steiner's life and ideas to people, especially as another reviewer noted for English speakers. Uniquely balanced, insighful and comprehensive to the spiritual & philosophical antecedents that contributed to Steiner's thought and development of Anthroposophy. Validating my thoughts to the German idealist underpinnings of Anthroposophy, this work will also encourage English readers to reexamine both the cultural/scientific contributions of Goethe as well as seriously consider an indepth study of Steiner's "Philosophy of Freedom" as a long neglected major work of 20th century philosophy.

Lachman still continues to amaze and delight me, as both the best writer on esotericism today with a writing style that is fresh, insightful and approachable yet scholarly. There is no work by Gary Lachman I do not have and I will certainly seek out any future works by him as well.

This book may cause some consternation among "true believers", but even long time students of Steiner & Anthroposophy will find new insights to his life and work. As much as I admire Steiner and his work, Lachman addresses one such wrinkle I have dealt with, the slight embarassment brought on by the aesthetics of anthroposophical inspired art, speech formation, drama and painting. To the contemporary these expressions seem ponderous, naive and simply outdated. Lachman is gracious in describing Steiner's mystery dramas as "an acquired taste", I personally find them unreadable, verbose and probably unwatchable as well. Yet Steiner stated the essense of his philosophy is contained within these works.

Regarding Steiner's seminal Christology, described by Steiner as the "Mystery of Golgotha" is a major challenge to the casual reader.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Dr. C. H. Roberts on March 30, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gary Lachman has become one of best new writers on matters of esoterica and ageless wisdom, and the socio-cultural impact of these things in modern times. That impact began long ago as a result of the life and work of people like Rudolf Steiner. Steiner has the strange misfortune of being a towering figure in the intellectual and spiritual development of the modern Western world, and at the same time, being relatively unknown by most people. In my own attempts to better acquaint myself with his work I have not, to this point, had much success. Lachman's biography resolved most of that problem for me. He writes about Steiner in respectful but not non-critical way, and for me, it really brought Steiner the man closer. Lachman demonstrates a firm grasp of the intellectual and cultural issues of the German speaking European world of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but he does not write about these things in an obscure or complicated way. The only thing I did not like about this book was the absence of any photos from Steiner's life. Apart from that, this is a great book for meeting, and appreciating, a truly remarkable man, Rudolf Steiner.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J. Smitherman on April 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
Though I've been studying Rudolf Steiner's work for almost 20 years, I've not been particularly interested in his life from a biographer's perspective. Believing that a tree is indeed known by its fruit, I've been concerned to know whether or not Steiner was secretly torturing animals or humans as part of his "spiritual science," but the lack of any such stories, and the love and wisdom evident in his work itself, has satisfied any curiosity I have had regarding his character.

Recently, though, I've taken to learning more about the context of Steiner's work, especially the more esoteric practices. Learning about the history of the Theosophical Society, occult or mystery schools through the ages, and current spiritual practices - these have been more and more of interest.

Gary Lachman's "Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to His Life And Work" has satisfied my need to establish such a wider context for my study of spiritual science. His style is readable, his research credible. His background on the Theosophical Society, descriptions of Steiner's phases of life and work, and discussions of relevant, contemporary philosophical trends, all contribute a needed depth and breadth to Steiner's work. Most importantly for me, his sympathies are with what I take to be the main thrust of Steiner's work: the practice of spiritual science.

Two things in particular stood out to me in Lachman's book: First, Lachman identifies the primary character of Steiner's philosophy as phenomenology. I've always thought this, and I think it's an especially fruitful path to explore for the continued influence and practice of spiritual science.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By spinoza on February 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
Surprisingly, this book was displayed prominently inside the entrance of a local Barnes & Noble only a couple of days after it was published. A Californian having worked at the Goetheanum and taught at a German Waldorf School in the 1980s, I was aware that there had yet to appear a general biography of Steiner and an introduction to his thought specifically for Anglo-American readers. Hence my pleasant surprise at seeing Lachman's book. Unless one is immersed in the German idealistic tradition and with Continental Philosophy, Steiner's work is, as Lachman notes, difficult and challenging. Although Lachman approaches Steiner from his own background and sympathies in modern mysticism, thus far in my reading he seems to treat him fairly and to recognize that Steiner kept his distance from the popular mystics of his day (Steiner would not have considered himself a mystic or a spiritualist, at least not as the Theosophists and others of the time did). Lachman clearly does not intend his work to be an in depth introduction to Steiner's thought, but it is useful--and recommended--as a good general overview of Steiner's life and work. My only criticism is that he tends to simplify Steiner's thought so much that it at times seems trivial. In any case, hats off to Lachman for making the effort to finally get a reasonable biography of Steiner on the market for English readers.
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