PositiveThe Times (UK)... fascinating ... Chalmers knows he’s being provocative...Thankfully, by philosophers’ standards, he’s also unusually committed to trying to change his readers’ minds and proves a thoughtful, clear and funny companion — if not, in the end, an altogether convincing one ... his argument relies mostly on probabilistic analyses of what we would do with the power to produce full-universe simulations (his conclusion: we’d create millions of them). But can we really extrapolate from what we would do to what our unseen simulators might do? Can we be sure that their minds or physical laws are like our own? On the contrary, it seems to me that statistics about our world can’t really tell us anything fruitful about other worlds beyond ... In the end, Reality+ is a gripping act of philosophical escapology — a remarkable, if ultimately unsuccessful, attempt by Chalmers to wriggle free from the wild implications of his opening thesis. Just shy of 500 pages, it’s a sprawling, brain-tenderising beast of a book — but a hugely entertaining one at that.
RaveThe Times (UK)... masterly ... Perhaps because exercise is such a universal — and universally humbling — part of our lives, Sweat does, seemingly effortlessly, what all good history books should do: take the past and make it vastly more human ... It quickly becomes apparent that Sweat isn’t just a history of exercise, but a celebration of learning, language, travel and life itself ... If all of this autobiography, history, travel and physiology holds together, it’s because Hayes knows the rhythm of a good story and has a ruthless command of the language. He also possesses a gift for imagery ... If I have any gripe with Sweat, it’s that the last quarter focuses too heavily on recent American history. It’s understandable, of course, that Hayes, an American, would want to write about America, and when he goes into more autobiographical territory — such as his harrowing stories about San Francisco gyms in the midst of the Aids pandemic — he’s at his gripping best. Yet after the sections on Eisenhower’s Council on Youth Fitness, Jack LaLanne’s televised fitness programmes and Jane Fonda’s home workout videos, it all begins to feel like an unnecessarily large helping of apple pie ... Still, for the overwhelming part Sweat is impressive, a curiously touching character sketch of humankind, told through the unchoreographed dance of billions of humans exercising over tens of thousands of years. Our species emerges mortal, sometimes foolish and frequently vain, but also, in the end, unpredictably, charmingly inventive. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to go and play squash.