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The Form of Things: Essays on Life, Ideas and Liberty Hardcover – 14 Sep 2006

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (14 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297851675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297851677
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 13.4 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,216,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A.C. Grayling is Professor of Philosophy and Master of the New College of the Humanities, London. He believes that philosophy should take an active, useful role in society. He has written and edited many books, both scholarly and for a general readership, and has been a regular contributor to The Times, Financial Times, Observer, Independent on Sunday, Economist, Literary Review, New Statesman and Prospect, and is a frequent and popular contributor to radio and television programmes, including Newsnight, Today, In Our Time, Start the Week and CNN news. He is a former Fellow of the World Economic Forum at Davos, a Vice President of the British Humanist Association, an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society, Patron of the UK Armed Forces Humanist association, Patron of Dignity in Dying, a former Booker Prize Judge, a Fellow of the Royal Literary Society, a member of the human rights group IHEU represented at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva; and much more.

Product Description


"Grayling has that wonderful gift that all good teachers have, the ability to simplify" -- Herald --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The new bestseller from our pre-eminent philosopher, A.C. Grayling

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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Alex Carlette on 25 Sept. 2006
Format: Hardcover
As with the previous books in this series, this one sees Grayling eloquently applying philosophy to everyday life in an extremely readable and jargon-free manner. It's perfect for flicking through, either on a reasonably long bus journey or curled up on the sofa at home, with each short - but insightful - essay guaranteed to give you something to ponder or cause you to see the subject in a slightly different light.

Grayling is not simply a detached on-looker; a strong sense of humanistic ethics runs throughout his work, he repeatedly praises the emotions and arts which make life so interesting, while treating the abstract ideas and concepts which seek to cheapen human life (mainly, but not exclusively, religion) with scorn.

In short: warm, intelligent, insightful.
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By foxy237 on 9 April 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A refreshing perspective on the various vicissitudes of life that shape our characters and forge our destinies. Grayling has a very good mind.
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3 of 17 people found the following review helpful By S. Matthews on 26 May 2008
Format: Paperback
Grayling writes smugly, from what he clearly imagines to be a great height, downwards in the direction of what he equally clearly sees as his lowly and benighted readers. I spent an hour leafing through this yesterday and took away little more than a vague and amused impression that he was trying to patronise me. The fact that I agree with him about most things only made it worse: with friends like this, suddenly my enemies look a lot more dangerous.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Easy to read and it makes you a better person. 19 Feb. 2013
By Natalie_Holl - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love A.C. Grayling. I read his "The Reason of Things" and it's just so inspirational. I love the way the book explains so clear what's right and what's wrong. It somehow teaches you how to think and gives you a new light to some very difficult issue. I feel like I want to be a better person after reading that book and so I continue reading the whole series of it. The book also breaks off in small and short chapter on each topic. Makes it very very easy to read. Even if you have 5 minutes for a coffee break, you can easily finish a chapter. Very knowledgeable author, impressive book.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The unlikely vIctory of the Iroquois against their Indian enemies 3 Feb. 2011
By rochester777 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This remains an important book of 181 pages with an extensive bibliography and index. It covers the years 1535-1687 with the stated purpose to examine how, regardless of being significantly outnumbered and completely surrounded by hostile tribes with many of these tribes having European allies (France, Sweden, Colony of Maryland), the Iroquois will so throughly and completely defeat their neighboring Indian enemies to become "the dominant power in their region until" the American War for Independence.

Part of the author's purpose is to address what he considers the misplaced notion of attributing this astounding Iroquois military success to the "magical" Iroquois Confederation, an alleged inherent warlike disposition or a superior intellect. In this, he appears to be addressing earlier theories as to the reasons for Iroquois success. He may overstate his case regarding the lack of contribution from the Iroquois political institutions. The author does not overstate the Iroquois success, however. He demonstrates the Iroquois failures through the mid-1600s, their rapid (but limited) success thereafter, their lack of military success against non-neighboring tribes, and their inability to maintain an expansive empire.

The author appears to have a through knowledge of the primary (primarily Jesuit Relations and Colonial Documents of New York) and secondary (Parkman et el) sources and interacts with them throughout the book.

A problem with this book (1940 edition-3rd printing 1967) is some inconsistant dates used. On Pg 68 the author has the "Neutral and Erie Wars of 1660-65" and Pg 97-98 states the Neutrals were defeated in 1651 and the Erie defeated in 1654 (both tribes being dispersed and effectively destroyed as tribal units).

The author does argue for an economic motive (the fur trade) fueling the conflict between the Iroquois and their enemies. He also suggests that this economic motive was a positive factor in maintaining peace within the Iroquois confederacy itself. To suggest that economic motivation for war has been discredited or that the author has underlying "marxist concepts (sic)" appears completely unfounded. The author acknowledges that the European-Indian trade is monopolistic and mercantile in nature (government controlled economies). Prices are fixed, competition does not (for the most part) exist, there is no "Free Market Capitalism" here. This is not a book about economics but a book about the reasons for the unlikely Iroquois victory over their neighbors.
3 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Obsolete theory 28 Jun. 2006
By Florentius - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book was seminal in its time as the first to propose that trade relations were the ultimate cause of the wars fought among the Eastern Woodland tribes of North America in the 17th century. This theory, based primarily on marxist concepts of trade being a fundamentally evil activity at the source of many conflicts, has been largely discredited today.

For a better overview of this subject, check out the Iroquois Wars I & II, available from, which offer excerpts from the primary sources themselves and tell a much different story from Mr. Hunt's faulty interpretation.
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