RaveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)This book not only teaches us something important about polymathy’s past; it does an excellent job of opening our eyes to polymathy’s future too. For it certainly has one.
RaveLos Angeles Review of Books... the real debate Eilenberger’s book is about is not what happened, for two hours, between Heidegger and Cassirer in Davos (that was just a short, concluding episode, meant primarily for public consumption), but something far more consequential: whatever happened — philosophically, but also socially, culturally, and politically — over the previous 10 years across Europe ... The structure of this story shows Eilenberger’s sure instinct and outstanding skill as a philosophical narrator... Eilenberger has the excellent idea of not even trying to resist Mann’s influence, but to ride on it. In part because of the spell cast by Mann’s novel, what Eilenberger does in his book is primarily storytelling — philosophical storytelling, that is. The smart introduction of the protagonists, the careful laying out of the plot, the dramatic buildup, a change of pace here, an ellipsis there — these and other tricks of the novelistic trade are on full display in Time of the Magicians. Eilenberger has the born storyteller’s gift of placing the meaty detail or the revealing anecdote exactly where it will have the biggest impact ... he pursues a particular cluster of thinkers because they reveal themselves to be part of the same philosophical plot ... Events have a way of narrating themselves when they encounter a gifted storyteller ... Philosophy, then, is nothing if not embodied. And that’s precisely what makes these four figures such excellent storytelling material. They are all characters in search of an author. For to embody philosophy is to enact a drama.
RaveThe Literary Review (UK)What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holland’s an all-absorbing story ... It takes a master storyteller to translate the development of a philosophical notion into a captivating story, and Holland proves to be one ... He doesn’t claim groundbreaking archival discoveries or archaeological revelations. Instead, Holland offers a remarkably nuanced and balanced account of two millennia of Christian history – intellectual, cultural, artistic, social and political. The book’s scope is breathtaking ... The impact of Christianity on the way we live, think and speak has been extraordinarily pervasive, and not only in the West, Holland concludes ... The humblest, the utterly insignificant, serves only to mask the extraordinary. Holland is fascinated by this. Indeed, he is so taken by it that he seems to have based his method of storytelling on it.
PositiveThe Washington Post\"A master contrarian in the tradition of philosophers Lev Shestov and Emil Cioran, Gray uses paradox not just for rhetorical effect but to a philosophical end ... Gray has emerged as a unique thinker precisely because he has no time for the pious lies and empty niceties of the academic establishment. He seems to have a sixth sense that helps him detect whatever is shallow, self-flattering and self-deceptive in our notions of ourselves. He is erudite, witty and persuasive.\