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Wise Guy: The Life and Philosophy of Socrates [Hardcover]

M. D. Usher , William Bramhall


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not another mafia story 2 Dec 2005
By Bill Koch, DDS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
All those days of torture came back to me-- the "Socratic Method" they called it... THEY being my oral surgery profs. They just kept asking questions until we ran out of answers. Mark Usher brings the father of philosophy to life in Wise Guy, an easy-to-read, well-illustrated primer for kids. The book is appropriate for two age groups, 6-8 and 9-12, as it is written and illustrated for the younger readers in the main frames, with more dissertation on sidebars for the pre-teens. The book covers Socrates' early life as he attempted to pin down the basic concept of the idea. It continues along, with Socrates picking up disciples as he developed the dialectic-- his framework for the logical analysis of ideas. The etermal question of the nature of good and evil prompts him to spawn the logical basis for ethics. Finally, as his enemies bring him to trial for his teachings, it is the ethics he deduced that left him no alternative but the cup of hemlock.

In a world of post-modern cultural and ethical relativism, it is precisely Socrates who can offer our young people an anchor in the form of logical analysis of ethical dilemmas. The pursuit of wisdom is the pursuit of truth, which is in reality the search for an absolute. Contrast this to our modern culture's use of phrases such as "my truth" and "what's right for me", and the book offers its best lesson.

Written in a lighthearted, storybook fashion, one is hard pressed to be saddened at the demise of Socrates. His death marked the notion that no man is above the law, despite its imperfections. This is important to note for parents concerned about the appropriate time to introduce literature with death involved. It is definitely not frightening as presented.

More could have been mentioned about the Socrates-Plato-Artistotle continuum, but for the intended reader this may be more dialogue than needed to get the message across. All in all this is a good work

Bill Koch, DDS

Barre, Vermont
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For kids from 1 to 92 2 Nov 2005
By Augustine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Wise Guy" is possibly one of the cleverest children's books I have ever come across. Although the main text is ostensibly targeted at "juveniles," the delightful illustrations will nevertheless appeal to the youngest kiddies in the crowd (my 4-year-old was ROFL at Socrates' antics), while the sidebar commentary offers adult-level background info on the thinking, history, and legend behind Socrates and ancient Greece. The storyline itself is captivating, and the end of the book deftly ties in the impact of Socrates' legacy on our modern world, linking the ancient "Wise Guy" to later Wise Guys (including Gandhi, Hannah Arendt, and MLK)-a gentle and good-natured debunking of scoffers who would dismiss Socrates as just another Dead White Male. The author, a university professor, does his own homework too: the end pages provide handy sections entitled "The Ancient Sources" and "Further Reading," which will surely be useful for those whose interest in the classics is piqued by this marvelous book. Let us hope for many additional works in this vein by the duo of Usher and Bramhall.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Wisdom and Kids 19 Nov 2005
By Wishful Thinker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
With "Wise guy" Professor Usher and artist Bramhall have brilliantly captured the ancient sage, Socrates, growing from childhood through adulthood always asking those simple questions that through the ages have always had hard answers. These are questions that each person must grapple with. The clever text and extraordinary illustrations comfortably link the reader to the person, Socrates, and ancient Greece. The sidebar text on each page provides more depth that enables an advanced young reader or an adult to probe more deeply into the ideas and concepts presented. This is a must-have book for kids with an inquisitive mind. Bravo to Usher and Bramhall for their engaging book. Let's have more!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Classical Homeschool Resource! 20 Feb 2006
By Classical Homeschool Mom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Homeschoolers will want WISE GUY on their bookshelf. Our family loved it and it was a great introduction to Socrates for our 9 and 12 year old. Younger children will enjoy the great illustrations and gentle story about Socrates while older students, adults included, will learn more historical information about ancient times. Usher and Bramhall combined these elements creatively and made a great family book to re-visit as the family grows. A great find for our homeschool!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent picture book 28 Jan 2006
By Mother Goddess - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love this book! Having studied philosophy in college, I wanted to introduce my children to the subject. (Aristotle himself said that all philosophy begins with a child-like sense of wonder.) The author, a philosophy professor, does a marvelous job of presenting not only Socrates' life and times but also his philosophical ideas in a simple, straightforward way. My small children (one a beginning reader) had no trouble at all following the basic storyline, and my husband and I learned a lot we didn't know from the commentary that accompanies each page. Socrates was a rationalist, but what I especially like about this book is that we get to see Socrates' mystical or spiritual side, which is presented in a lighthearted, yet serious way. The best part about this book, however, are the artful illustrations. Some scenes are whimsical (like the picture of Socrates dancing), others touching (especially the pages dealing with Socrates' trial and death). I've looked at this book two or three times since I bought it and I expect it will get many more readings over the years.
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