A tribute to humanity’s inquisitive spirit and a useful guidebook for readers looking for a little inspiration or purpose.

The Pursuit of Wisdom


An exploration of man’s evolving search for answers, featuring short profiles of historically influential theologians, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians.

Chavooshian’s debut is a chronicle of figures who dared to ask the most significant questions about man’s existence. Some were theologians, such as Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and Ramakrishna, positing man’s place in the universe and the nature of his creation; others were scientists, such as Hippocrates, Charles Darwin, or Albert Einstein, who dared to question the mechanics of the physical world. Many of them owed the language and manner of their ideas to early philosophers, including Plato, Socrates, and Sun Tzu, whose methods would be adopted (and sometimes rejected) by later figures, such as Søren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Chavooshian profiles all these people, along with more than 70 other great thinkers from throughout history, in loose chronological order, summarizing their contributions in succinct but thoroughly researched chapters, sometimes accompanied by images. Despite each chapter’s thrift, they present their subjects’ achievements with great enthusiasm, offering commentary on how earlier schools of thought helped shape their ideas. Each chapter ends with a helpful, encouraging list of each figure’s principal works. Chavooshian presents theologians of Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu origins alongside Christian teachers and features Arab and other Eastern philosophers alongside Western peers. In nearly all cases, he presents their ideas without judgment, although he does take note when he believes that certain ways of thinking lead to violence, fascism, or anti-Semitism—such as Muslim theologian Al-Ghazali’s development of Sharia law or the twisting of Karl Marx’s communism. Although it’s by no means a comprehensive collection—it’s particularly light on philosophers, theologians, and scientists from the 20th century, for example—it makes for an excellent reference source on some of the most influential people in mankind’s pursuit of knowledge.

A tribute to humanity’s inquisitive spirit and a useful guidebook for readers looking for a little inspiration or purpose.

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4787-4372-9

Page Count: 446

Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc.

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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