People who buy this hoping for further Grayling philosophy will be a little disappointed. Divided into three sections: A Miscellany of Arts, Aspects of History and Spectating Science, each with around twelve or thirteen essays varying in length from two pages to ten, it is more an insight into Grayling's varied reading interests. He brings his encyclopaedic knowledge, clear and "philosophical" style but, most of all, his enthusiasm to each subject, making it a very interesting and varied book to read, easy to dip into and consider in sections. Knowledge for knowledge's sake and curiosity about all things human. Going to bed with all of Jane Austen, emerging in love with Emma Woodhouse again (57-8), saving Shakespeare from mummification by Jonathan Bloom (46-56), re-living the horrors of the Fall of Berlin (119-122), the Rosetta Stone's enduring magnetism in the British Museum (137-9), Quantum theory (167-170) and whether there is, not just life, but intelligent life in the Universe (201-206), a re-look at Carl Sagan (a scientist I had just read again before finding Grayling's book) - all of these are on AC's menu. (Presumably the stipulation for intelligent life is just in case he meets them!) I enjoyed it and recommend it. For anyone interested in AC Grayling as a thinker, it is a must; for anyone who is just interested in the world, it is essential.
As with Graylings other collections of thoughts, this is a lovely collection of vignettes. Most articles run to 2-3 pages, giving enough introduction to understand the topic, and appreciate the observations being presented. There are 3 themes : Arts (23 articles), History (14 articles) and Science (18 articles) The topics are many & varied, my favourites ranged across : Art : from Modern Architecture to Shakespeare; History : from Heritage to the English Revolution; Science : from Knowledge to Alien Abductions. Another cherished volume to join the Grayling collection.
Alas, not quite up to the excellent standards set by this book's twopredecessors - The Meaning of Things and The Reason of Things. Some ofthe early pieces meander rather, whilst also seeming just a little toorecondite for the general reader. A shame, because one of the bestthings about Grayling's previous books in this series is theiraccessibility. Nevertheless, the second and third chapters (which make up two thirds ofthe book) - Aspects of History and Spectating Science - are mostlyexcellent, with some particularly good pieces at the end on philosophy'smost fashionable conundrums - consciousness, cosmology and genetics. All in all, still well worth the price, and Grayling's prose is as tautand incisive as ever.