When We Cease to Understand the World

English language

Published Nov. 3, 2020 by Pushkin Press, Limited.

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4 stars (3 reviews)

5 editions

An astounding trip through history and the unknown

4 stars

An exceptionally difficult book to rate and review; so much so, I've left it a month before making any comment. I'm not normally much for historical realism in my fiction, but the first story in this often bizarre collection, Prussian Blue, pulled me in hard, and I had to devour it in one satisfying gulp.

Labatut takes historical figures (chiefly from the sciences, with physicists and mathematicians at the forefront), and twists them into often grotesque tales, peppered with fiction and his own invention. The whole book has an addictive and propulsive quality (hence my need to fire through the first story in one sitting), reeling from event to event without hardly catching a breath. Where and with whom one story starts, is in no way guaranteed to end in the same place and with the same person; in a way history itself is the main character here. As Labatut …

Review of 'When We Cease to Understand the World' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

The blend of non-fiction and fiction can be a lil' uncomfortable at times but it expertly uses the medium to succinctly explain the departure from entirely understanding the world to having to accept that we simply cannot. It's a special book where you'll likely learn a lil' something while also embracing the chaos of it all.


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