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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 4 February 2014
I liked this book as it was informative on many topics; but as interested layman philosopher, I felt it was more like a dinner table chat with ideas brought up and quickly, opionion rendered, then on to the next topic. At times it seemed to be on the lookout to add as many names, movements, organisations as possible to give the feel of researched ideas but the overall tone was like something from a sunday magazine, like a stocking filler. It was informative and I enjoyed, it, but for me a mark of a good book is if I want to read it again, or at least go through my Kindle highlights. I did not have the urge with this.

If you are keen on a pratical guide to the stoic portion I'd recommend William Irvine's A Gude To The Good Life: he is an academic so the writing is not as lucid as Jules, but there are more concrete, solid tips. Jules's book left me with a taster of everything, but if I were to make something of it, I'd have to research those areas of interest further.

One thing that did bother me was that the book made references, say to Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, but the reference at the back did not give the exact quoattion. So I know he quoted the book but can't look it up myself.
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on 13 August 2014
Bought this on the strength of a very positive review by Ade Edmondson as a favourite book that he continues to reference on a regular basis. Hmmm.......I don't think I'll be doing quite the same. I found it accessible enough to read and will take away and ponder the central positive message about (I think) stoicism.......but found it rather long-winded and meandering: difficult to extract great meaning or value in the way AE seems to have done. Yes, it was thought-provoking - and I definitely encountered some gems of enlightenment along the way, but may have forgotten half of them because I was expecting the book to summarise these for the reader as a reward for sticking with the book to the end. It doesn't. You are largely left to draw your own conclusions - which, perhaps, is as it should be. I would have preferred the book to be more concise and its messages distilled and summarised. I am prepared to recommend the book and its author - but would advise you to do your own highlighting as you go.
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on 10 November 2015
Not many book can be described as ' life changing'..this gave me my light bulb moment.
it is written superbly and is robust enough for someone with an intellectual philosophical background, yet simple enough for those who are simply intrigued. Every psychologist should read it too as there is within, an insight to how philosophy can help change your mind/life for the better.
I am now beginning to study the subject - I couldn't recommend this more highly
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on 7 April 2017
If you wish to delve into the world of ancient Greek philosophy then this is the book for you. Well written, easy to understand, entertaining and highly practical. The chapter on the Stoics is worth the price of the book alone.
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on 11 March 2017
Good surmise of another world view and its relevance today.
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on 18 November 2014
A great book, everyone should read
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 6 August 2012
This is the most interesting, entertaining and satisfying book I have read in many years. I came to the subject of philosophy from a complete layperson background, having my first taste of the concepts through self help books and wanting to try and get to the root source of this type of thinking (as it turns out, CBT has many roots in ancient philosophy) purely on the basis of personal interest rather than an academic need.

The writing style is clear and engaging it is a superbly structured look at many different areas of philosophy and one that routinely spans 2000BC to the present day. I particularly liked the way the author gave his own opinions of various things in a very mature and objective way but usually only at the end of each section once all the key points had been covered.

I've learned so much from this book about well known names such as Aristotle and Socrates, which before reading this were just names from some high brow and unreachable discipline called philosophy. The ideas put forward by all the people in this book are hugely stimulating and well presented here. It has totally broken down the barriers (in my mind) to the whole subject.

The only thing missing I think is a glossary of some of the terms used. There was a tendency at times to explain a concept then drop back into the jargon. I'm still in the dark as to what some of the colourful terms mean having never studied politics, economics or philosophy and not having a university background. Yes, I can (and did) Google them, but for a book intending to be accessible to anyone, I would have preferred this to explain it all, in the words of the author.

However there is - tongue in cheek - a dark side to this book! I had my "wish list" on Amazon open almost the whole time I was reading this book, adding book after book - this book is just the start, it opens so many doors, gives you so many avenues of further reading and investigation to go down. And really what more can you ask from a book? But this is probably going to cost me quite a lot of money in the long term now I have a new-found thirst for knowledge.

Engaging from start to finish, thought provoking, possibly even life changing. Well done Jules Evans.
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on 8 December 2014
I bought this book because I wanted to expand my mind with the intriguing philosophers from ancient times. I have had quite a closed mind for a long time, believing I could not find something which would help me see the world in a better or different way- I was wrong!
I owe this book and author (and Philosophers!) a lot of credit for helping me get through each day which, prior to reading, was extremely difficult. I have not committed to any particular philosophy (as I said I want to keep an open mind) but each in their own way has helped me more than any therapist could. I really believe this book could be useful to those who are a bit skeptical of modern methods in relation to overcoming certain difficult situations. It gives you the option of picking and choosing bits of each philosophy to adopt in order to deal with life in a more proactive and positive way.

Excellent book!
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on 10 May 2012
This book sets out to teach you things you certainly aren't likely to have been taught at school, or at university for that matter. It draws on the ideas of a dozen thinkers: Socrates, Epictetus, Musonius Rufus, Seneca, Epicurus, Heraclitus, Pythagoras, the Sceptics (treated as if one person - the original one was Pyrrho), Diogenes, Plato, Plutarch and Aristotle.

Evans says the aim is to convey "what it would be like to get a day-pass to the School of Athens". Rather than merely being dry and academic, this book constantly shows an awareness of how philosophy can be brought to bear on everyday situations. Evans has interviewed all manner of people (astronauts, soldiers, the politician Rory Stewart) and profiled plenty of others - such as a Chicago firefighter who gives classes in Stoic resilience - to see where philosophy fits (or can fit) into their lives.

The book is appealingly structured like a day's lessons or tutorials. The writing is fresh and thoughtful, pretty accessible, largely unpretentious and of a genuinely practical kind. This reminds me of Alain de Botton's Consolations of Philosophy, except that it has a much keener sense of philosophy's place and utility in the real world.

As a primer in Greek philosophy, the book works well, but is a good deal more than that - a wise, honest, original and helpful guide, which provides ample food for thought and has inspired me to do further reading (about which Evans provides a handy guide at the end of the book).

Highly recommended.
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on 9 July 2012
Great introduction to Greek Philosophy and its relevance today. I suspect the second book will be a self help guide on how to apply it.
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