RaveThe Wall Street JournalIt might be thought that the justification for another biography of Gödel is that previous biographies were in some ways incomplete—or, to put it another way, that a new work should add substantially to what we already know. Does Stephen Budiansky’s Journey to the Edge of Reason pass this test? ... [Budiansky] writes vividly, and the book overflows with fascinating detail. Although it mostly steers clear of math and logic, it does a good enough job to convince general readers that they have understood some of the problems with which Gödel grappled. Plus, there is some fresh material to draw upon, including Gödel’s diary, which covers two years before the outbreak of World War II ... if that degree of biographical scrutiny is justified for the 20th century’s most important scientist, then there is surely room in the world for an enthralling book about its most important logician.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalExact Thinking in Demented Times surveys this history in more or less chronological fashion ... It’s a valuable book, and the translation (by Mr. Sigmund himself) is almost flawless, though marred occasionally by an excessive enthusiasm for English idiom... Readers who are not versed in the period, however, will find it difficult to keep track of the bewildering array of characters, and the richness of the detail sometimes strays into over-indulgence ... The book advances no overall thesis, and we never really come to understand why the Vienna Circle flourished at a particular place in a particular period ... The context matters. One way to view the Vienna Circle is as part of Vienna’s extraordinary cultural and artistic burgeoning in the first decades of the 20th century. The term 'modernism' is applied to many innovations in these fields. And the spirit of modernism was alive within the Circle.