I have read a number of works in this series, and this seems to me one of the weaker ones. The greatest strength of Strathern's volumes is the lively, humorous and interesting ways he tells the story of the philosopher's life. He does this well also with Nietzsche, though the life became one of lonely walking in the mountains and philosophizing. Strathern is very good on Nietzsche's relation to Wagner, his brief romantic misadventures , his family background, including the early death of his father, and the household of females he was raised by, his poisonous sister and the misuse she made of his literary legacy. He also does away quite quickly with a number of the central notions Nietzsche is most known for i.e. the eternal recurrence, the superman. But Strathern does not really enter into Nietzsche's historical critique of Christianity, his going beyond good and evil, his transformation of values , his attempt to substitute his own ethic for that of the Civilization he judged to fail. I think also Strathern is a bit generous in total freeing of Nietzsche of the responsibility for the deleterious effect of some of his ideas, mainly the 'ubermensch' idea. There is Nietzsche's tone and stance an aggressiveness and verbal violence (His attacks on women are embarassing and shameful) that is not alien to the evil adapters and distorters of his superman doctrine.
Strathern has great appreciation for Nietzsche's incredible literary brilliance and psychological perceptiveness. He also notes rightly that in splitting with Wagner, in refusing to sanction the kind of racist anti- Semitism which both Wagner and his own sister preached, Nietzsche showed decency and courage.
Another point. Strathern writes about Nietzsche as a readable and interesting philosopher, one who saw system- building as impossible, and yet one whose work has a coherence. I myself believe that there is little of Nietzsche's ' philosophy' that is of enduring value and meaning, but that his writing as a whole is a brilliant literary and philosophical creation in which there is much insight into both the soul and culture. Suffering, syphilitic Nietzsche gave us ' the thought of suicide has gotten me through many a rough night' He also gave us the infamous remark about God's no longer being with us, one which in our time with a worldwide return to and revival of religion seems as Mark Twain said about the announcement of his own death ' slightly premature'.