I Am Dynamite!
A groundbreaking new biography of philosophy's greatest iconoclast Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most enigmatic figures in philosophy, and his concepts--the �bermensch, the will to power, slave morality--have fundamentally reshaped our understanding of the human condition. But what do most people really know of Nietzsche--beyond the mustache, the scowl, and the lingering association with nihilism and fascism? Where do we place a thinker who was equally beloved by Albert Camus, Ayn Rand, Martin Buber, and Adolf Hitler?Nietzsche wrote that all philosophy is autobiographical, and in this vividly compelling, myth-shattering biography, Sue Prideaux brings readers into the world of this brilliant, eccentric, and deeply troubled man, illuminating the events and people that shaped his life and work. From his placid, devoutly Christian upbringing--overshadowed by the mysterious death of his father--through his teaching career, lonely philosophizing on high mountains, and heart-breaking descent into madness, Prideaux documents Nietzsche's intellectual and emotional life with a novelist's insight and sensitivity.She also produces unforgettable portraits of the people who were most important to him, including Richard and Cosima Wagner, Lou Salom�, the femme fatale who broke his heart; and his sister Elizabeth, a rabid German nationalist and anti-Semite who manipulated his texts and turned the Nietzsche archive into a destination for Nazi ideologues. I Am Dynamite! is the essential biography for anyone seeking to understand history's most misunderstood philosopher.

I Am Dynamite! Details

TitleI Am Dynamite!
Author
ReleaseOct 30th, 2018
PublisherTim Duggan Books
ISBN-139781524760823
Rating
GenreBiography, Philosophy, Nonfiction

I Am Dynamite! Review

  • Joseph
    January 1, 1970
    Sue Prideaux presents an fascinating biography on one of the most controversial philosophers of the 19th Century. Rather than focusing heavily on Nietzsche's philosophy she concentrates on his life and and friends, particularly composer Robert Wagner. She also ties Nietzsche's mental breakdown to his father's mental illness rather than syphilis. Nietzsche sister, Elizabeth, is also given an important role in the formation of his fallacious public image. It was her actions that lead to his identi Sue Prideaux presents an fascinating biography on one of the most controversial philosophers of the 19th Century. Rather than focusing heavily on Nietzsche's philosophy she concentrates on his life and and friends, particularly composer Robert Wagner. She also ties Nietzsche's mental breakdown to his father's mental illness rather than syphilis. Nietzsche sister, Elizabeth, is also given an important role in the formation of his fallacious public image. It was her actions that lead to his identity as an anti-Semite and forerunner the Nazis. She also had control of his papers and copyrights after his death.Nietzsche's philosophy, when presented, plays into his life events and creates a connection between the person and the philosophy. Thus Spoke Zarathustra was mailed to the publisher the same day that Wagner's death was reported. Nietzsche saw this as the death of his "father" and the birth of his son. His personal experience with war seems to directly contradict the public's commonly believed definition of the Übermensch. Reality contradicts the common perception of the philosopher.Prideaux shows Nietzsche as a complex man in his thoughts but in many ways very human. Although his friends tended to be rich, he lived much more simply. Prideaux writes a balanced biography of one of the most maligned and misunderstood modern philosophers and corrects some serious wrongs that have no basis in fact. A very well done and cited biography that presents a true picture of the man. 
    more
  • Biblio Curious
    January 1, 1970
    A book like this needs to be composed like music. All the elements must be gently pulled in so the main themes can shine through. Prideaux accomplishes this with such great finesse. Essentially, this book has 3 main threads that she stays true to for the entire biography: *Chronology of Nietzsche's Life, filled with colourful details.*An Intellectual History of his Philosophical Development, flooded with bookish details.*Historical Context as it Relates to Nietzsche, with the goal of setting the A book like this needs to be composed like music. All the elements must be gently pulled in so the main themes can shine through. Prideaux accomplishes this with such great finesse. Essentially, this book has 3 main threads that she stays true to for the entire biography: *Chronology of Nietzsche's Life, filled with colourful details.*An Intellectual History of his Philosophical Development, flooded with bookish details.*Historical Context as it Relates to Nietzsche, with the goal of setting the record straight.We can see Nietzsche develop from his early 20's. True to any young man, this section of the book is the most lively and fastest to read. The early pages are packed with books he read, what he thought of them, his keen friendship with Wagner & his musical life.Next, the biography moves into his middle years, where the intellectual development slows down but his private life certainly picks up. He's essentially come into his own for what he believes in. The rest reads like a, well, not a gossipy newspaper column. He's still a great thinker, Prideaux's writing still sings, perhaps he's simply a man who fell in love? And if this biography reads as beautifully as fiction, our villain is clearly moving onto the chessboard.This final section is where I was rendered on the floor in emotional turmoil. Again, Prideaux's writing keeps the more complex periods of history clear & easy to read. Which only emphasizes the tragedy of thoughts gone wrong. These were an emotionally crippling couple of pages with exquisitely concise summaries of Nietzsche's final self published works. She includes spoilers on these few pages, if you consider lines like Descartes' "I Think Therefore, I Am" to be a spoiler.The final pages include: *Aphorisms as a great tribute. *Near year by year Chronology from 1844-1935*Endnotes citing the sources, little to no commentary*A pretty fun sounding Bibliography for book nerdsI'd recommend this to fans of Nietzsche & his naysayers most of all. She reduces him back the mere man he wanted to be, removing the legend that his sister painstakingly tried to build up. As a result, perhaps Nietzsche can finally become ... * impish smile, you have to read this book & his works to find out *My 1st Impressions Video, filmed before I read this:https://youtu.be/Qug7mp7Oq7IMy final review, it gives a very brief update to the 1st Impressions & less information than this written review:https://youtu.be/Ygb1gl3vU-o
    more
  • Erik Graff
    January 1, 1970
    When asked for recommendations by those unversed in philosophy I most commonly recommend Plato and Nietzsche. Both are enduringly popular. Both are immediately accessible. Though often misinterpreted, both also describe the antipodes of Western philosophy: the metaphysical and the anti-metaphysical, the classical religious and the modern secular ideals.As the Church has misappropriated Plato for its purposes, so much of the abuse of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) stemmed from the decades of con When asked for recommendations by those unversed in philosophy I most commonly recommend Plato and Nietzsche. Both are enduringly popular. Both are immediately accessible. Though often misinterpreted, both also describe the antipodes of Western philosophy: the metaphysical and the anti-metaphysical, the classical religious and the modern secular ideals.As the Church has misappropriated Plato for its purposes, so much of the abuse of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) stemmed from the decades of control of his estate by his racist sister Elisabeth (1846-1935) and her increasingly Nazi entourage. This has been substantially rectified for American readers by the republication of his works, unsullied by her self-serving ministrations, by such translators and biographers as W. Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale. Now, with S. Prideaux's current biography, such reconstructions of this man have attained a greater completeness.While Kaufmann, the one most responsible for the reintroduction of Nietzsche to the English-reading public, produced a magisterial biography of the philosopher in 1950 (rev. 1968), his emphasis was more on the evolution of Nietzsche's writing and ideas. Prideaux's particular virtue is in having provided a very readable and more fully-fleshed portrait of the man and those closest to him. She is particularly strong in providing a lucid exposition of his intellectual development in relation to his physical condition and erotic life without thereby belittling either the man or his work.Where Prideaux is weak is in placing Nietzsche within his philosophical context, neglecting, I think his dependence, via Schopenhauer and others, on Kant. But this is the objection of a philosophically-inclined reader and hers is first and foremost a biography, a very good one, which should appeal to specialists and generalists alike.
    more
  • C. Quabela
    January 1, 1970
    Nietzsche was the primary philosopher who inspired me to pursue the field. Not that he offers a (coherent) belief system or ready-to-hand tools for life, but he does provide the type of critical perspective necessary to begin questioning one’s life. His thought has so much become a part of my own that whenever I revisit his works I find aphorisms that mirror my own dispositions in ways I never realized had sunk in. I feel, as do many who have been inspired by him, an emotional connection with hi Nietzsche was the primary philosopher who inspired me to pursue the field. Not that he offers a (coherent) belief system or ready-to-hand tools for life, but he does provide the type of critical perspective necessary to begin questioning one’s life. His thought has so much become a part of my own that whenever I revisit his works I find aphorisms that mirror my own dispositions in ways I never realized had sunk in. I feel, as do many who have been inspired by him, an emotional connection with his thought given which he holds a dear place for me. All that is to say that I was both anxious and apprehensive to read a biography on his person.The task of writing about the life of Nietzsche is not without its perils. With a hankering after the irrational and revelry it is just as vital to capture the setting and atmosphere within which Nietzsche’s thought developed so as to impress the mood that makes up such a part of Nietzsche’s aesthetic. Prideaux does a superb job in recreating the environment that so affected and afflicted this tormented thinker. With Nietzsche’s own penchant for colorful descriptions, Prideaux works hard to maintain a similar flourish without becoming garish. Nor can one write a biography of Nietzsche without addressing the philosophical thought that consumed him. Prideaux adroitly weaves within the story of his life not only Nietzsche’s own thought, but that of the likes of Empedocles, Kant, Schopenhauer, and more in a manner that seems natural and easy to digest. However, I question Prideaux’s choice to give synopses of Nietzsche’s books, particularly those after his Untimely Meditations. Nietzsche’s works are far too broad and nuanced to neatly sum up in a couple of pages and I fear that these sections may mislead the reader into false starts and premature conclusions about his works.What I find most commendable about this biography is that Prideaux does not mythologize unsubstantiated events in Nietzsche’s life, not even those considered pivotal, nor speculate about them other than where it is further noted by contemporaries making up the primary sources consulted. For example, the time in which it is supposed that Nietzsche may have contracted syphilis is passingly commented upon with only a slight reference to Mann’s grander allusions to it in his novel Doctor Faustus. Rather, the book is well researched and is composed with descriptive care to fill in the setting. The historical facts are treated like a pre-composed libretto needing only to be pieced together and then inlayed by the greater orchestral composition that is Prideaux’s text. I imagine that some may be critical of the divagations into other notable individual’s lives, such as Wagner and Förster, but I found these to be sparse and refreshing. Nietzsche lived during an exceptional time (the Paris Commune, the Franco-Prussian War, emergence of Symbolism, etc.) and many of the individuals, both greater and lesser known, he was personally acquainted with. As such, I take these additions to be an asset to the whole in their providing important context to Nietzsche’s acquaintance and reciprocating influence. “Incipit Tragoedia. When Zarathustra was thirty years old, he left his home and the Lake of Urmi, and went into the mountains. There he enjoyed his spirit and his solitude, and for ten years did not weary of it. But at last his heart changed,” begins aphorism 342 of The Gay Science. The same could be said of that fateful day in Turin during the winter of 1889, Incipit Tragoedia, when he finally went under and succumbed to the madness within which he would spend just over the next ten years. His final decade of life is heartbreaking to read about and Prideaux spares no punches in defending his legacy with a detailed account of the (mis)appropriations of his thought. Some may be turned off by the pointed depiction of his sister Elisabeth’s machinations, but Nietzsche’s legacy had ruthlessly been controlled by her and to dire purposes for decades after his death. Prideaux does an excellent job documenting and debunking many false impressions that have been attributed to Nietzsche over the years without, however, denying that his thought does lend itself to such interpretation and abuse. In terms of scholarship and engagement of style, Prideaux’s portrait is masterfully executed and artfully composed to the aim of defending Nietzsche’s legacy as a philosopher of ‘perhaps.’
    more
  • Plamen Miltenoff
    January 1, 1970
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...Misappropriation has been rife. Richard Spencer, a leader of America’s “alt-right”, claims to have been “red-pilled by Nietzsche”, while Jordan Peterson quotes extensively from him. But let’s start with the Nazis. Growing up in Bismarck’s reich, there were three things Nietzsche hated: the big state, nationalism and antisemitism. “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, that is the end of German philosophy,” he wrote, and “I will have all antisemites shot.”Wh https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...Misappropriation has been rife. Richard Spencer, a leader of America’s “alt-right”, claims to have been “red-pilled by Nietzsche”, while Jordan Peterson quotes extensively from him. But let’s start with the Nazis. Growing up in Bismarck’s reich, there were three things Nietzsche hated: the big state, nationalism and antisemitism. “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, that is the end of German philosophy,” he wrote, and “I will have all antisemites shot.”When it came to faking news, Elisabeth was a pioneer. On her brother’s death in 1900, Elisabeth didn’t think his death mask was sufficiently impressive, so she faked a second one. She did the same to his writing, rummaging about in his literary estate, cutting and pasting at will. She published an unreliable biography of him and delayed publication of his autobiography, Ecce Homo, until she had deleted uncomplimentary references to herself The Nietzsche Archive became an institution filled with extreme rightwingers, whose aggressive nationalism chimed with her own.Among them were Oswald Spengler, and Alfred Bäumler, who oversaw book burning in Berlin and prepared Nietzsche’s texts for new editions, including another The Will to Power that again gave the impression the text had been authored by Nietzsche himself. Bäumler was joined as editor in the Nietzsche Archive by Martin Heidegger. Ernst Krieck, a prominent Nazi ideologue, sarcastically remarked that apart from the fact that Nietzsche was not a socialist, not a nationalist and opposed to racial thinking, he might have been a leading National Socialist thinker.Nietzsche also has an undeserved reputation as a misogynist. Born in 1844, he attended one of the best schools in Europe while Elisabeth was sent to Fräulein Paraski’s institution to be taught how to capture a husband, run a household and speak just sufficient French to be considered elegant but not (God forbid) learned. Yet Nietzsche treated Elisabeth as an equal. He gave her reading lists, urged her to think for herself and widen her knowledge by attending public lectures.Nietzsche and Meysenbug intended to found a school for free spirits in the caves beneath Sorrento.The free spirits were to include women and nothing would be off limits in their study of culture, philosophy, aesthetics, religious scepticism and sexual freedom. The school never materialised but his friendship with Meysenbug widened Nietzsche’s feminist circle to include Meta von Salis-Marschlins, an activist for women’s suffrage, and Resa von Schirnhofer.Nietzsche is an unusual philosopher because he doesn’t tell us what to think. There’s no such thing as Nietzsche-ism. He sums it up in one of his aphorisms: “You repay a teacher badly by becoming merely a pupil.” In other words, read me but think further.
    more
  • Kelsey
    January 1, 1970
    I AM DYNAMITE! is an intimate look at the life and death of one of history's most well known philosophers- Friedrich Nietzsche. One of my favorite aspects of reading is the fact that I can pick up a book knowing very little about a subject and finish with a whole new perspective and wealth of information. Nietzsche was one of those figures that I knew most of the basics (i.e. "God is dead"), but not nearly enough. He was incredibly complicated and Sue Prideaux's book gave a balanced and informat I AM DYNAMITE! is an intimate look at the life and death of one of history's most well known philosophers- Friedrich Nietzsche. One of my favorite aspects of reading is the fact that I can pick up a book knowing very little about a subject and finish with a whole new perspective and wealth of information. Nietzsche was one of those figures that I knew most of the basics (i.e. "God is dead"), but not nearly enough. He was incredibly complicated and Sue Prideaux's book gave a balanced and informative account of his life and death. The book opens with Nietzsche as a young boy and the early loss of his father. Nietzsche did not have the easiest childhood and struggled to connect with his peers. It was fascinating to see Nietzsche's transition from extremely religious with plans to serve the church to begin questioning God. He also developed relationships with a wide variety of significant cultural figures from Wagner to Lou Salome. Nietzsche meets and interacts with many different people throughout his life and they all impact his journey in different ways. He also develops some casual relationships with different women but none turn into anything permanent. I wonder how his life and legacy would have been altered if he had a wife and children to protect his beliefs and writing. Nietzsche had a lot of ideas that were not widely accepted for his time and it was sad to see how he struggled to connect with people until after his decent into madness and death. The final chapters were some of the most interesting to me. They were depressing and frightening, but Prideaux does a great job of attempting to dispel the syphilis rumors. Doctors were quick to assume that was the reason for Nietzsche's madness, so additional tests were never performed. The worst person in his life was his sister. Elisabeth did not care about protecting her brother's legacy. She only cared about money and making herself famous. Elisabeth twisted her brother's words, destroyed papers, and befriended Hitler and Mussolini. The beginning took me some time to get into as there were a lot of names and places I was unfamiliar with. Quickly, though, I found myself conducting research on every name that was mentioned and learned so much about the people in Nietzsche's world. I am especially interested in learning more about Lou Salome. I AM DYNAMITE! was an interesting and well-written biography of one of history's most controversial figures. I especially liked learning about some of the aphorisms that originated with Nietzsche like "That which does not kill us makes us stronger". Nietzsche's ideas were before his time and especially controversial because of his questioning of God and the church. I related to his joy of being by himself with nature and taking time to write and read quietly. This was a fascinating man and there is so much more to him that is worth reading about, particularly if you have only read the biased accounts put out by his sister and her followers.
    more
  • Osbert
    January 1, 1970
    Sue Prideaux is a clever biographer. She describes how one of Nietzsche's classmates "cut up a photograph of him and made it into a puppet that said and did ridiculous things". The implication that the Nazis were not the only manipulators of Friedrich Nietzsche is subtle and well stated. Elisabeth, his sister, is cast as the evil controller and link to the National Socialists, her dead brother's words and ideas twisted for political purposes, an accusation that isn't without merit.This biography Sue Prideaux is a clever biographer. She describes how one of Nietzsche's classmates "cut up a photograph of him and made it into a puppet that said and did ridiculous things". The implication that the Nazis were not the only manipulators of Friedrich Nietzsche is subtle and well stated. Elisabeth, his sister, is cast as the evil controller and link to the National Socialists, her dead brother's words and ideas twisted for political purposes, an accusation that isn't without merit.This biography isn't exactly an introduction to Nietzsche's philosophy. She does hold that his thought is aimed at the individual, not the masses. This is true: A political reading of Nietzsche that aims at collectivism is a travesty of the arch-individualist and free spirit that was Friedrich Nietzsche. It is a grave misreading of his ideas. The whole point of Nietzsche is that he *isn't* for everyone - only the aristocratic in spirit (a small minority) will gain anything from his work.
    more
  • Joan
    January 1, 1970
    As someone who had only heard about Nietzsche this biography of him was very enlightening. Prideaux has done a good job of portraying the man and exploring his works. Her writing style makes the information on complex issues very readable.I had no idea that Nietzsche's father went mad at age 35 and that Nietzsche feared the same for himself. Nietzsche did go mad at age 44 and remained so until his death twelve years later. I was surprised by the vision he had at age twelve, making such an impres As someone who had only heard about Nietzsche this biography of him was very enlightening. Prideaux has done a good job of portraying the man and exploring his works. Her writing style makes the information on complex issues very readable.I had no idea that Nietzsche's father went mad at age 35 and that Nietzsche feared the same for himself. Nietzsche did go mad at age 44 and remained so until his death twelve years later. I was surprised by the vision he had at age twelve, making such an impression on him that he dedicated his life to God. Yet he greatly changed that view as he grew older. I had no idea about his relationship with Richard Wagner and the power music had on Nietzsche. I had no idea of his fragile health and failing eyesight, his short experience as a professor, the less than glowing reviews for his works, making references to his divinity as he slipped into madness.I recommend this well written biography to those interested in understanding more about the life and works of Nietzsche.I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
    more
  • Janine Brouillette
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very interesting biography on a man who I had heard of, but did not know that much about. The writer describes Nietzsche’s early upbringing, the death of his father with “softening of the brain”, his complex relationship with his mother and sister, Elizabeth, which carried on until his final breakdown, stroke, and death. His sister, who had strong Nazi beliefs, and who was a friend of Hitler’s was the curator and editor of the library of his work after his death which made it take an This was a very interesting biography on a man who I had heard of, but did not know that much about. The writer describes Nietzsche’s early upbringing, the death of his father with “softening of the brain”, his complex relationship with his mother and sister, Elizabeth, which carried on until his final breakdown, stroke, and death. His sister, who had strong Nazi beliefs, and who was a friend of Hitler’s was the curator and editor of the library of his work after his death which made it take an unintended slant immediately after his death but has since been corrected. Nietzche took inspiration from people such as Plato, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Richard Wagner. Prideaux wrote in great detail about Nietzsche almost obsession with Wagner, his music, and even his wife, Cosima. He spent much of his time with them at their villa Tribschen and was even there for the birth of their first child. He would send them his writings for review and would even compose music for them, although that was never well received. Prideaux does a good job of weaving his personal life, his philosophical thoughts, and even his periods of tormented mind. Another relationship that is featured in his life is that with Lou Salomé and Paul Ree.....and their time spent as the “unholy trinity”.....until they broke his heart. Sue Prideaux did a great job of researching and was very knowledgeable of his life, work, relationships, and philosophy, but being somewhat of a novice it seemed a little wordy and complicated in some parts.
    more
  • Jill Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    Apparently I'm just not that into Nietzsche... I was very curious to read this one - I was a philosophy major in college and found the Existentialists fascinating. It's very interesting theory and I thought this book would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, not so much. It's a little random and I had a tough time getting into it. He was indeed a "brilliant, eccentric, and deeply troubled man" but I found this presentation of his life a little too brilliant and eccentric for me. His journal ent Apparently I'm just not that into Nietzsche... I was very curious to read this one - I was a philosophy major in college and found the Existentialists fascinating. It's very interesting theory and I thought this book would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, not so much. It's a little random and I had a tough time getting into it. He was indeed a "brilliant, eccentric, and deeply troubled man" but I found this presentation of his life a little too brilliant and eccentric for me. His journal entries pretty much lost me from the outset. I finally gave up and skimmed past them to see if I would fare better with the life narrative, but I did not. The book is clearly very thoroughly presented but I just couldn't find my way into this biography... Thank you to the Penguin First to Read program for my review copy.
    more
Write a review