Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love by Andrew Shaffer – Book Review

Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love by Andrew Shaffer
Published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of Harper Collins

If philosophers are the wisest among us, and even by their very name called lovers of wisdom, then surely they should excel at romantic relationships, n’est pas? Alas, that seems not to be the case, as Andrew Shaffer clearly shows in “Great Philsophers Who Failed at Love.”

Thirty-seven philosophers, including greats such as Socrates, Plato, Kant, Locke, and Sartre, have their love lives chronicled in “Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love.” Their stories range from merely an excessive number of marriages and divorces, to legal adoption of one’s younger lover, to the accidental murder by strangling of one’s spouse.

“Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love”  was supremely well executed. Each philosopher has a chapter between two and four pages long, where their contributions to the world of philosophy, along with their scandalous love life, is chronicled. Shaffer walks at least two fine lines: providing the reader with enough information on each philosopher’s contributions that their inclusion makes sense, but not overwhelming the narrative with philosophical detail which not all readers may understand; and providing an informative narrative which is funny, but not to the point of being ridiculous. In both cases, Shaffer achieved exactly the right balance.

A fascinating book. although I’m surprised that Shaffer’s wife didn’t turn around and leave when he mentioned on their honeymoon his proposed topic. Highly recommended for those interested in philosophy, history, and human nature.

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