Customer Review

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Research does not equal analysis, October 12, 2009
This review is from: Marcus Aurelius: A Life (Hardcover)
McLynn always goes to great lengths to inform himself and he has read a wide variety of source material on Aurelius. The problem is that simply researching does not make for a good history book. McLynn frquently fails to analyze the information he has discovered. Too often, he'll pluck a quote from Meditations to buttress a poorly analyzed point and move on, certain he has convinced the reader because he has a quote to back it up (even if he misses the context of that quote). He quite clearly despises Stoic philosophy and this blinds him in his argumentation and leads to simplistic analysis. McLynn was just as biased in Richard and John, where he was smitten with King Richard and this blinded him to the faults historians generally agree that Richard exhibited. In this book on Aurelius, McLynn can't get over his hatred of Marcus' philosophy and this often makes the book infuriating for an ancient historian. This is not a terrible book but I would not recommend it. The problem I see is that historians aren't going to like his analytical deficiencies and obvious bias while regular readers won't slog through 700+ pages (with long winding detours to provide background) to inform themselves. Regardless, Aurelius deserves better than this.
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