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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First half good, second half meh, 31 Oct 2011
This review is from: Autobiography (Routledge Classics) (Paperback)
Bertrand Russell lived for over 90 years. During his long life he engaged in correspondence with many leading figures of the day, from Keynes to Khrushchev. It is fascinating to read these letters, although several of them are written in German or French and thereby are inpenetrable to the average reader.

As to the Autobiography itself, it starts off extremely well. In recording his early years, Russell is brutally honest and details his struggles with all aspects of his life from mathematics through to masturbation, and he does so with his trademark wit. For his sins, he is patriotic, passionate and profoundly idealistic, yet, with the exception of his actions to his first wife, comes across as rather likeable. Highlights include early trips to the new USSR circa 1921 and China pre-PRC.

In the later half, Russell becomes cagey. His third divorce occupies a single line. His prose also deteriorates. Meanwhile, the ratio of letters to biography shifts so that one finds oneself wading through a sea of largely irrelevant letters on this or that peace initiative, and Russell, who had previously been somewhat of a maverick, becoming a respectable, if idealistic figure. Shudder.

The ends of the book tie together rather nicely. However, one can't help feel that somewhere Russell shifted from his original purpose of honest self-exploration. It is as if the light of truth became too painful for himself and those close to him to bear.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Screw 'Erdos Numbers' and 'Bacon numbers', Bertrand Russell knows everyone., 19 Sep 2009
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This is an interesting insight into one the 20th century's clearest and sharpest minds. Between his birth in 1872 and his death almost a century later in 1970, he travelled far and wide, his thoughts were broad and deep, and he consistently met, talked, and wrote with a spectrum of interesting people people: from H G Wells to Einstein. His Nobel Prize in Literature was well deserved, both for his effortless language and his breadth and depth of scholarship. Excellent addition to any book shelf!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Genius: an unmatched life., 5 Nov 2013
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W. Scott "elenkus" (Bute, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Autobiography (Routledge Classics) (Paperback)
To say that Russell was 7th wrangler, awarded a distinction in the Moral Sciences Tripos and went on to revolutionise mathematical logic and philosophy, nowhere near gives an adequate impression of his education, interests and richness of life.
He had Latin, Greek, German, Italian, French and probably some Russian and Chinese as well. Of course he wrote some of the best books in the English language. He read and appreciated the best that the literature of the world had to offer. He was also deeply political in the best sense: not promoting himself into government but fighting for changes he believed necessary, often against great opposition even at the cost of job, widespread criticism and even a spell in prison. He was even sacked from a university chair for his advanced views on sex and marriage. His friendships are marvellous to behold. The autobiography is full of illustrative letters which together are an important contribution to the history of the time. Of all men, Russell's effect for good on his world is beyond compare.
Once, I heard him speak at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh. He was then a double nobel laureate (one of four: Fred Sanger, Lynus Pauling and Marie Curie the others), aged about 90. His very existence is an inspiration.

PS In his relationship with Wittgenstein the intellectual honesty shines forth. How different academe is these days: a rat race for preferment, lying and self promotion being almost considered normal. The world will not see his like again.
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Autobiography (Routledge Classics)
Autobiography (Routledge Classics) by Bertrand Russell (Paperback - 1 Sep 2009)
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