Book Review

The Man Who Was Thursday, by G. K Chesterton

An intellectually engaging book, which is short enough to be read quickly and enjoyably.
The Man Who Was Thursday primarily argues against the anarchists whose ideas were prevalent around the turn of the century when the book was written, showing both the logical inconsistencies and the dreadful results of the practical application of such ideas. However, it also shows how people can become to obsessed with a cause, even though it may be good.
It relates the story of a certain Mr. Syme, a vehement anti-anarchist, who is recruited into Scotland Yard’s special anti-anarchist department. He engages in a debate with Gregory, a poetical though not seemingly violent anarchist, who takes Mr. Syme into his confidence and introduces him to the underground world of anarchists. Mr. Syme seemingly infiltrates the deepest society of anarchist in Europe, only find that he is faced with an unconquerable enemy, but he fights nonetheless against his demonic foe. In the telling of this story Chesterton not only intertwines a number of intellectual arguments against anarchism, but he also relates it with a striking literary style of brief but vivid descriptions of the differing characters and their actions. The plot is almost too action-packed, with an extremely high number of betrayals and reversals, but this makes for an exciting, though exhausting, book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys arguments and intellectual puzzles, but anyone who finds philosophical debates complicated or boring would most likely think the book overly complex and compact.

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