Stargazers Reviews and Comments

     Stargazers has been called “very eloquent,” “lyrical,” “informative and entertaining,” “a wonderful source of inspiration” — a book with “the power to excite people about ancient Greek philosophy”! The comments below are typical of those across a wide spectrum of readers.

     I was profoundly impressed by this work. Stargazers will prove to be a wonderful source of inspiration for the youth of today and tomorrow!
Eiichi Shimomisse, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, California State University

     Although the book will be of interest to those readers who especially want to learn more about the origins and tenets of philosophy, it will delight readers of any stripe for its lyrical verve and the author’s obvious passion for his subject. History, as Herodotus practised it, is not always what happened so much as what would have been appropriate or poetically just; hence, if we subscribe to this ancient “cautionary tale” approach to biography, we can relish Paul Bjarnason’s anecdotalizing about the ancient philosophers, regardless of whether such things as Thales’ tumbling into an irrigation canal actually happened. Such humorous stories humanize Bjarnason’s subjects, making them seem both timeless and contemporary.
Philip V. Allingham, Adjunct Professor, Dept. of English, Lakehead University

      Reading this is an enjoyable experience. It will appeal to many people: the general public and students beginning their study of philosophy, among others. The interweaving of paraphrase, quotations, commentary and imaginative recreation gives the book a vitality that will, I believe, attract the reader to keep on reading.
Dane R. Gordon, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, College of Liberal Arts RIT

      Provided a view which I could not have gained from reading the dry texts alone, and deepened my appreciation of their philosophical contribution. Stargazers will be appreciated by anyone who has enjoyed reading Mary Renault’s The Last of the Wine.
Dr Geoffrey Klempner, Director of Studies, International Society for Philosophers

      I very much enjoyed reading this book. It is both an entertaining and enlightening introduction to the larger than life characters who helped bring philosophy out of myth in their quest for the good life and how to achieve it. Useful to those new to, or versed in, the subject, Stargazers reminds us that philosophy, as a tradition that began with a concern for human happiness, is as relevant now as it was then.
Andrew Sewell, International Baccalaureate philosophy teacher, Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific

     This is a rather different approach to introducing the field of philosophy, a topic whose contradictory attractiveness and difficulty over the years has spawned many different approaches by many different authors. The introductory path the author follows is more through subjective meaning and ultimate value than abstract logic…and Bjarnason brings both knowledge and a visceral sense of commitment to [the] task. He has taught this material to high schoolers, and it shows.
     The author focuses just on the first Greek world philosophers, from Thales to Plotinus, 600 BC to 200 AD. Each philosophical profile begins with a succinct Prelude section, setting person and era in clear context. Then follows a two-to-six page “story,” aiming to pull the reader deeper and more personally into the life and thought of the philosopher at hand. The stories…at best…bring the thinker, his issues and era to vivid life. Some readers might turn directly to the big three–Socrates, Plato and Aristotle–but the sections on lesser-known thinkers are often the most brilliant.
     This is a book that could be used in a variety of classes: history, ethics, philosophy or humanities in general, and, I’d guess, from 8th grade up…
KLIATT (Reviewed by Daniel Levinson, History Dept., Thayer Acad., Braintree, MA)

S: Recommended for senior high school students.
A: Recommended for advanced students and adults.
* An exceptional book.

      This 186 page book focusing on our early ancient Greek and Roman philosophers and their life and times was a pleasure to review. It was like taking a step back and seeing where the root of so many of our cultural beliefs and my own personal values truly came from. The author was so articulate with his words and commitment to showing me these great people that I walked away feeling like I had taken a piece of them with me.
     I loved them all, and especially felt a kinship to Pythagoras of Samos, a definite deep thinker who realised that we are all one, and I found his story fascinating. I believe that many times we have to go back to go forward and this excellent read helped me do that in grand style. I would recommend this thoughtful tour guide to anyone one wanting to get a better idea of where we came from. Thanks Paul, it made a world of sense to me.
Riki Frahmann, Mystic Living Today

      A very important book that can help us better understand a lot of today’s logic. Central to the theme is the sense that philosophy is a way of living…not something that one does, but rather something that one is. A great way for someone who is interested in ancient philosophies, but who is not a scholar, to learn more about the who, what’s, why’s and how’s of early thinking.
Odyssey Magazine

      The book contains twenty-one short stories about the first philosophers…stories [about] a feast, a philosopher on trial and a philosopher on his death bed…about philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle…. There is no doubt this book will develop a love for wisdom in many of its readers, and something that we can today live and not just learn about.
Ryan Murray, TCM Reviews

      Western philosophy … was concerned with the nature of origins as well as the underlying substance of the universe. A very good summary, reminding us that the question “what is the good life, and how is it to be achieved?” is still with us today.
Network Review

      I want to say how impressed I am by the clarity of your writing. The subject is not one that generally interests me, but I found myself enjoying learning about [it] (due to the presentation)…. It’s a fine book.
Alan Twigg, BC BookWorld
Note: Paul Rossetti Bjarnason, author of Stargazers, is profiled in the Spring 2008 edition of BC Bookworld.

      Managed to finish Stargazers, Stories of the first philosophers by Paul Rossetti Bjarnason. Very enjoyable. The Afrikaans word for philosophy, which is wysbegeerte, translates as desire for wisdom, very apt I realise now.
An Agathist’s Musings on Books and Art

Amazon Reviews

***** A great book, both informative and entertaining!

     This book is a wonderful introduction to philosophy and philosophers. The fascinating historical information is shared by the author in the form of anecdotes about each of the early classical philosophers. This format allows the reader to become immersed in the world of the time, and to feel as though he or she has actually encountered famous philosophical figures such as Socrates, Democritus, and Thales. I highly recommend Stargazers to students, scholars, and aficionados of classical philosophy, and also to those who are completely new to the topic. An excellent read.
Posted by Scandy (BC, Canada) November 16, 2007 at

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