This book was very good, in parts excellent, but it wasn't as captivating as I had thought it would be based on the description. Somehow I was convinced it was going to be the greatest book ever! There were definitely sections that dragged and I wasn't always able to keep track of where we were in time. But the book did introduce me to Lucretius, which counts for a lot. I found the narrator's pace a bit slow at first, but I got used to it and he certainly has a beautiful voice.
There are two stories here. The first is an interesting story about a book hunter tracking down a lost tome. The other is an anti-religious diatribe. The former is compelling, the latter is heavy handed and inaccurate. The way the author frames Christianity in the first 1500 years would lead a read to believe they were all pleasure hating masochists. It is in this obvious disdain for religion that his credibility as intellectual guide through the ages is compromised.
What could have make The Swerve better? Focus on the first story.
reading a different book!
he could have written a better book!
It was impossible to detract from a book this poor.
Here's the gist of it: some Italian guy loves old Roman manuscripts. After a VERY long time, he gets his hands on this one, by Lucretius, a Roman writer who says, there is no God, you die, the soul dies, that's it, so enjoy yourselves now. Thinkl you've never heard of this guy? Think he's simply another atheist/epicurean type? Think again. Thomas Jefferson had 5 copies in his library which PROVES this is the most important book ever in the history of ever. Now I've just saved you 300+ pages of supposition, guessing and endless detail, much of which feels totally invented.
More about the book hunters of the Renaissance.
I guess so.
Possibly as a documentary about Lucretius and the discovery of his poem. I'd avoid Greenblatt's over-wrought hypothesis that this one book changed the course of humanity, though.
I wouldn't buy this as an audiobook. Possibly it's better in hardcopy.
Feels like a story that could have been told better as an magazine article, as large segments were about the penumbra of the main point, and only peripherally associated with the main thrust of the book.
Got a Pulitzer because it plays to the preferences of the committee then the actual merits, I suspect.
Greenblatt artfully weaves the personal story of Pogo the book hunter with Epicurean philosophy and Lucretius's discovered text. For anyone curious about the history of ideas, church censorship and practices, and the people who kept intellectualism flourishing despite adversity, The Swerve is riveting.
Before Christ was a twinkle in Joseph's eye, it turns out there was a perfect formula for a moral life beautifully rendered. An inspiring story of how beautiful life should be, wonderfully read.
The story jumps, but pleasurably. We are in rome in ancient times, then in renaissance Italy - or with newton, and then gradually the picture becomes clear. This is not only a story about a missing poem, but also a tale of how knowledge triumphed over ignorance to bring about modernity.
A great history lesson that devolves into an anti-sermon.
What does that mean?
We are completely immerse in our western history, particularly Roman Catholic History, with extreme detail. It's all jaw dropping stuff until his conclusions. these are sadly from the point of view of someone who as a humanist turns his findings into a case against religion. The author tells us to open our minds to escape our beliefs but only to encase us again in his own humanist evangelism, which is still a belief and in the end no less a religion.