Staff Pick

If Friedrich Nietzsche kept his “gaze … fixed beyond all that is ephemeral,” seeing himself as “untimely,” Sue Prideaux’s I Am Dynamite! (Tim Duggan, $30) shows how very timely the “philosopher of perhaps” remains. Prideaux looks closely at the thinker’s family, friendships, health, and travels, tracing the development of his ideas within larger personal and cultural contexts. So rich are these contexts that at times they threaten to overwhelm the ideas. Prideaux gives generous selections from Nietzsche’s letters as well as the letters and journals of his sister Elisabeth, Cosima Wagner, Paul Rée, Jacob Burckhardt, and others; combined with her often witty and always sharp comments, these actual voices bring even the secondary characters to life. The narrative is also full of telling and indelible details, like the “Renaissance painter outfit” Richard Wagner wore for his first meeting with Nietzsche. Prideaux’s accounts of Nietzsche’s life-long ill health, when he was incapacitated for weeks with headaches, nausea, and sensitivity to light, reveal him as a courageous and vulnerable man as well as a formidable thinker. But when he was incapacitated mentally and physically for the last years of his life, he was at the mercy of his sister Elisabeth, who recreated her brother in the image of proto-Nazi. Prideaux untangles her distortions from Nietzsche’s rejection of systems, restoring his “blazing if baffling vision that challenges us to think for ourselves.”

I Am Dynamite!: A Life of Nietzsche Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524760823
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Tim Duggan Books - October 30th, 2018

Staff Pick

Amid all the ranting, Michiko Kakutani’s articulate and rational voice is a great relief. The Death of Truth (Tim Duggan, $22) doesn’t just argue that facts are different from opinions, that words have meanings, that reality and truth exist—it proves it by drawing on a wide range of historic and cultural touchstones. From the Founders and Lincoln to writers including Arendt, Orwell, Huxley, David Foster Wallace, and others, Kakutani taps expertise to trace the cultural and political roots of today’s resurgence of populism and demagoguery. “Trump is as much a symptom of the times as he is a dangerous catalyst,” she reminds us, and demonstrates how his disdain for facts, civility, and any perspective other than his own grew from both fascism and postmodernism. She cites chilling parallels between his use of language and Hitler’s, and shows how ideas such as cultural relativity and deconstruction—originally propounded by left-wing academics to subvert master narratives—softened the lines between objective and subjective. Where the founders emphasized “the common good,” the very idea of consensus is now in tatters. What can save us? Institutions such as the three branches of government, the press, and education; the courage to insist on the truth, as the Parkland students have; and books like this one.

The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525574828
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Tim Duggan Books - July 17th, 2018

Staff Pick

While substance abuse has been around for a long time, the current opioid crisis really is something new. It grew up fast around the 1996 introduction of OxyContin, and the juggernaut of aggressive marketing, high dosages, and powerful pills that could be swallowed, snorted, or injected got people hooked fast. At this point there are some 2.6 million people addicted to opiates nationwide. Overdoses are the leading cause of death for those under age 50, and in a decade the total deaths from opiates exceeded all deaths from HIV/AIDS. The statistics are numbing. But let them be the gateway for the invaluable stories Beth Macy recounts in Dopesick (Little, Brown, $28) about individual users, their families, doctors, and communities. Macy is a passionate reporter and while she focuses on the western part of Virginia--the region she knows best, and which is also among the hardest hit by opiates—she gives a comprehensive look at the history of drugs in this country, traces their different demographic trails, totes up the costs, and outlines the nation’s wrong-headed and/or conflicting criminal justice, drug, and health-care policies.

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316551243
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Little, Brown and Company - August 7th, 2018