Although I’d long desired to find a biography of Werner Von Braun, one of the more complex and mysterious figures of early rocketry, most of the treatments I found seemed unlikely to provide the kind of detail and depth of analysis that I was seeking, so when I came upon a biography of him that was consistently billed as the best study yet done of him and his history, I was optimistic enough to add it to my reading list, and excited enough by its possibilities to read it within a year of its addition.
Perhaps I could have made this into a “book review” – the essay is certainly lengthy enough to justify it – but I rarely have trouble keeping up with book reviews, while writing Tuesday’s blog posts can be more of a challenge. More pertinently, I don’t so much want to review Losing the War for you, as I do want to share my thoughts on this peculiar, rambling essay. It was something my dad first found and shared with me several years ago, and it somehow came up in recent conversation, so I decided to revisit it. If you haven’t read it before, you can find it here: Losing the War.
Have we written a philosophy book review before? I know that we've talked about philosophy on the site in previous posts, but this might be the first time that I'm actually reviewing a philosophy book here at IGC. That's a little ironic, because this series of essays is probably not the first work of philosophy that comes to mind - I think most people probably would come up with Plato's dialogues as the most popularly known (though not necessarily read) piece of philosophy.
Most of the time, when I read biographies, they're thick, heavy pieces that cover in great detail every year of a person's life, from the time their born to the time they die. Although some eras of that life are inevitably covered in more detail than others, since there is simply more information and more to discuss, the level of detail is generally fairly consistent. This is certainly the case with most of Chernow's biographies, of which I am very fond. With The Accidental President, however, we are presented with an incredibly zoomed-in view of, as the subtitle suggests, the first four months of Truman's presidency.