KANT

A BIOGRAPHY

A gathering and evaluation of some important data—but it's not for the casual reader.

For the dedicated and persistent, this “first full-length biography of . . . philosopher Immanuel Kant in over 50 years,” attempts to humanize the man long pictured as having no life outside the mind.

Kuehn (Philosophy/Phillips Univ.) mines the relatively sparse and sometimes untrustworthy biographical material as best he can. We learn that Kant was a whiz at billiards as a young man (earning some of his living expenses at the table), that he was welcomed into the salons of high society in his hometown of Königsberg both for his learning and his conversational ability, that he was a bit of a clothes horse, and in other ways a social animal, enjoying the company of his friends, dining, and discoursing in restaurants and pubs for many hours a day. However gregarious Kant may have been, it is inescapable that it was his cerebral and not his gustatory adventures that made him the celebrated figure that he remains. So the biographical details are matched, if not overwhelmed, by discussions of the intellectual, religious, and political influences that surrounded Kant as he lived out his long life in Königsberg. These included the Pietistic beliefs of his parents as well as the rich and provocative writings of Enlightenment figures such as Rousseau and David Hume, but also German scientists, theologians, and thinkers (many of whom had been Kant’s students). As he rose from lowly lecturer to senior professor at the University of Königsberg, Kant honed his ideas about the opposition of reason to sense, ruminating through what Kuehn calls “The Silent Years” and finally beginning to publish extensively only in his late 50s. There are lengthy excerpts from arguments made for and against Kant’s ideas by friends and rivals during this productive period. Finally, Kant began a long mental and physical deterioration leading to his death two days before his 80th birthday.

A gathering and evaluation of some important data—but it's not for the casual reader.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-521-49704-3

Page Count: 530

Publisher: Cambridge Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview