Books

typewriter-801921_1280David Edmonds has written or edited 14 books, covering subjects as diverse as philosophy, chess and discrimination.  They have been translated into over two dozen languages.

Click here to view David’s books for sale on amazon.co.uk. Or click on a book cover.

Alternatively, scroll down for more information about Wittgenstein’s Poker,  Bobby Fischer Goes To WarRousseau’s Dog or Would you kill the fat man? 

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Some descriptions and reviews

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Wittgenstein’s Poker (written with J. Eidinow) was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and was a Number One national best seller in the US. It has been translated into 25 languages.

On 25 October 1946, in a crowded room in Cambridge, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper came face to face for the first and only time. The encounter lasted only ten minutes, and did not go well. Almost immediately, rumours started to spread around the world that the two philosophers had come to blows, armed with red-hot pokers. But what really happened?

  • “Excellent…” Simon Blackburn, The Sunday Times
  • “Edmonds and Eidinow have a good story to tell and they tell it wonderfully well” John Banville, Irish Times
  • “A wonderful account of an extraordinary confrontation…nothing but pleasure” The Times
  • “Informative, wonderfully readable and often very funny” Joyce Carol Oates
  • “An entertaining and informative book” Philip Hensher, The Observer
  • “A fascinating book” The Guardian
  • “A fast-paced, engaging and very funny story” Sunday Herald
  • “The authors do a brilliant job” The Independent
  • “An excellent piece of philosophical journalism” The Financial Times
  • “An enthralling reconstruction of the episode. The authors’ ingenuity is way beyond ordinary.” The New York Times
  • “The authors make the meeting of Popper and Wittgenstein seem as fateful as that between the iceberg and the Titanic” Time Magazine
  • “a terrific book, a fugue like account of everything we know and don’t know about a ten-minute squabble between two great and ornery Austrian-Anglo-Jewish philosophers” Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker
  • “Nothing but pleasure…” Philip Howard, The Times
  • “Most stylish book of the year” The Spectator
  • “A meaty, exceedingly well researched, and engaging book…A marvel of passionate journalism.” San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Engrossing – The clash between Wittgenstein and Popper has the glamour of a small epic” Los Angeles Times
  • “One of the year’s most entertaining and intellectually rich books” Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review
  • “A wonderful yarn” The Boston Globe
  • Book of the Year: Joan Bakewell
  • “A brilliant idea” Michael Frayn
  • “I read it like a detective story, in 10 hours, almost without looking up from the book” Mario Vargas Llosa
  • “Marvellous….” William Jefferson Clinton
 

fisch cover

Bobby Fischer Goes To War (written with J. Eidinow) details the occasion when Bobby Fischer met Boris Spassky in one of the most thrilling and politically charged chess matches of all time.

For decades, the USSR had dominated world chess. Evidence, according to Moscow, of the superiority of the Soviet system. But in 1972 along came the American, Bobby Fischer: insolent, arrogant, abusive, vain, greedy, vulgar, bigoted, paranoid and obsessive – and apparently unstoppable.

Against him was Boris Spassky: complex, sensitive, the most un-Soviet of champions. As the authors reveal, when Spassky began to lose, the KGB decided to step in . . .

  • “Outstanding….The definitive account of this historic struggle” Nigel Short, British Chess Champion
  • “The most famous chess match of all time reconstructed in a style as compelling as that of a thriller” Irish Times
  • “An excellent book” Sunday Telegraph
  • “Pure drama” The Independent
  • “One of the best books on chess I have ever read” Daniel King, Chess
  • “a gripping read” The Sunday Times
  • “Fascinating and accessible…” Time Out
  • “A page-turner for Grandmasters and neophytes alike” Esquire

Bobby Fischer Goes To War has been translated into a dozen languages.

 

In Rousseau’s Dog, rouss coverDavid Edmonds and John Eidinow bring their narrative verve to the bitter quarrel that turned these two Enlightenment giants into mortal foes. And it is a very human story of compassion, treachery, anger and revenge.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau – philosopher, novelist, composer, educationist, political provocateur – was on the run. He was fleeing intolerance, persecution, and enemies who proclaimed him a madman, dangerous to society. David Hume, the foremost philosopher in the English language, universally praised as a model of decency, came to his aid. He brought Rousseau and his beloved little dog Sultan to England. And then it all went horribly wrong.

  • “Offbeat, imaginative….entertaining” New York Times
  • “A beach book for the brainy set, engaging and erudite” Boston Globe
  • “Sprightly and accessible” San Francisco Chronicle
  • “A juicy steak of a book” Minneapolis Star Tribune
 

fat coverA runaway train is racing toward five men who are tied to the track. Unless the train is stopped, it will inevitably kill all five men. You are standing on a footbridge looking down on the unfolding disaster. However, a fat man, a stranger, is standing next to you: if you push him off the bridge, he will topple onto the line and, although he will die, his chunky body will stop the train, saving five lives. Would you kill the fat man?

The question may seem bizarre. But it’s one variation of a puzzle that has baffled moral philosophers for almost half a century and that more recently has come to preoccupy neuroscientists, psychologists, and other thinkers as well. This book tells the riveting story of why and how philosophers have struggled with this ethical dilemma, sometimes called the trolley problem. In the process, it provides an entertaining and informative tour through the history of moral philosophy. Most people feel it’s wrong to kill the fat man. But why? After all, in taking one life you could save five. Answering the question is far more complex–and important–than it first appears. In fact, how we answer it tells us a great deal about right and wrong.

  • “A lucid account of a famous thought experiment in moral philosophy.” Editors’ Choice, New York Times Book Review
  • “jaunty, lucid and concise. . . . In Would You Kill the Fat Man? David Edmonds . . . a seasoned philosopher, tells the story . . . with wit and panache.” Sarah Bakewell, New York Times Book Review
  • “elegant, lucid, and frequently funny. . . . Edmonds has written an entertaining, clear-headed, and fair-minded book.” Cass R. Sunstein, New York Review of Books
  • “elegantly written . . . Edmonds’s book is especially valuable for the way in which it embeds his introduction to the trolley problem in a story of the social reality that produced it.” Hallvard Lillehammer, Times Literary Supplement
  • “A marvel of economy and learning worn lightly” Daniel Akst, Wall Street Journal
  • “An accessible, humorous examination of how people approach complex ethical dilemmas. . . ..” Publishers Weekly
  • “Informative, accessible, engaging and witty, his book is a marvelous introduction to debates about right and wrong in philosophy, psychology, and neuro-science. . . . In the hands of a lucid explicator like David Edmonds, trolleyology is, at once, serious business (relevant, among others things, to preferences for drone strikes) and lots of fun.” Glenn Altschuler, Psychology Today
  • “This is a rare treat–a serious, thought-provoking book on ethics that is also witty, funny, and entertaining. Not to be missed. . . .” Mark Willen, TalkingEthics.com
  • “thoroughly delightful.” Brian Bethune, Macleans
  • ” witty and informative – an excellent introduction to some main lines of 20th-century moral philosophy.” Choice
  • “Edmonds does an outstanding job of introducing the reader to the historical emergence and subsequent development of trolleyology” Eli Weber, Metapsychology
  • “Rich in anecdote and example and wide-ranging in scope, Would You Kill the Fat Man?, is by turns fascinating and unsettling.” Gabriel Carlyle, Peace News
  • “Dave Edmonds has a remarkable knack for weaving the threads of philosophical debates into an engaging story. Would You Kill the Fat Man? is a stimulating introduction to some key ethical issues and philosophers.” Peter Singer, author of The Life You Can Save
  • “David Edmonds’s new book, Would You Kill the Fat Man?, is both highly informative and a delight to read. Written in a clear, engaging, and witty style, it succeeds admirably in making various fascinating and important debates in philosophy and psychology accessible to a broad readership.” Jeff McMahan, Rutgers University
  • “This is a splendid work. It’s a sheer joy to read” Philip Pettit, L.S. Rockefeller University Professor, Princeton University; Distinguished Professor, Australian National University
  • “This is a highly engaging book. David Edmonds’s reflections are full of insight and he provides fascinating biographical background about the main players in the history of the trolley problem, in a style reminiscent of his very successful Wittgenstein’s Poker.” Roger Crisp, University of Oxford
  • “Lucid, witty, and beautifully written, this book is a pleasure to read. While providing an introduction to moral philosophy, it also presents engaging portraits of some of the greatest moral philosophers from Thomas Aquinas to the present day, and it makes the case for the relevance to ethics of the new experimental moral psychology. It is a tour de force.” Anthony Appiah, author of The Honor Code

The Murder of Professor Schlick

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On June 22, 1936, the philosopher Moritz Schlick was on his way to deliver a lecture at the University of Vienna when Johann Nelböck, a deranged former student of Schlick’s, shot him dead on the university steps. Some Austrian newspapers defended the madman, while Nelböck himself argued in court that his onetime teacher had promoted a treacherous Jewish philosophy. David Edmonds traces the rise and fall of the Vienna Circle-an influential group of brilliant thinkers led by Schlick-and of a philosophical movement that sought to do away with metaphysics and pseudoscience in a city darkened by fascism, anti-Semitism, and unreason.

The Vienna Circle’s members included Otto Neurath, Rudolf Carnap, and the eccentric logician Kurt Gödel. On its fringes were two other philosophical titans of the twentieth century, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper. The Circle championed the philosophy of logical empiricism, which held that only two types of propositions have cognitive meaning, those that can be verified through experience and those that are analytically true. For a time, it was the most fashionable movement in philosophy. Yet by the outbreak of World War II, Schlick’s group had disbanded and almost all its members had fled. Edmonds reveals why the Austro-fascists and the Nazis saw their philosophy as such a threat.

The Murder of Professor Schlick paints an unforgettable portrait of the Vienna Circle and its members while weaving an enthralling narrative set against the backdrop of economic catastrophe and rising extremism in Hitler’s Europe.

Reviews

[A] compelling biography. – Oliver Moody, The Times

[L]ively and accessible. . . . [Edmond’s] research has also uncovered important new biographical information, including about [the Vienna Circle’s] lesser-known female members. – Adam Kirsch, New Yorker
As pacy as a thriller. – Joe Humphreys, Irish Times

[An] exemplary [piece] of intellectual history, doing meticulous justice to the ideas and engrossing about the personalities involved. – Alan Ryan, New Statesman

A clear accessible introduction to the complexities of logical positivism . . . [Edmonds] brilliantly illuminates why and how the philosophy burned so brightly. – Clare Clark, Standpoint

A readable popular history of the Circle that deftly integrates the ideas and lives of its members with the story of the Viennese milieu in which it emerged and its destruction. . . . [Edmonds’] historical narrative is clear, reliable and thoroughly readable – gripping, even, in places. – Tom Stern, Literary Review

A stimulating, scintillating new book on the Vienna Circle. – Daniel Johnson, The Critic

[An] engrossing and eminently readable history of the circle. – David Conway, Jewish Chronicle

[Edmonds manages to] combine the biographical and historical with the philosophical, without getting too technical. . . . It’s quite a poignant book. – Nigel Warburton, FiveBooks

A cracking read. – Diane Coyle, Enlightened Economist

I very much enjoyed this book, and found its direct style refreshing, and I hope it will serve as a model for others. [Edmonds] actually tells you what you want to know! – Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

Absorbing. . . . so fascinating and relevant now. – Thomas Filbin, The Arts Fuse

An accessible introduction to the group of philosophers and scientists who formed the influential Vienna Circle in the 20th century. . . . Edmonds tells its story thoughtfully in this fascinating mix of philosophy, biography and cultural history. – David Herman, Jewish Renaissance

Edmonds has written a compelling, captivating, and easily approachable book on the history of the Vienna Circle. He is witty, engaging, knows where to put emphasis, and how to draw lively pictures of those philosophers that are still too often conceived as technically minded abstract logicians. . . .Edmonds’ book will make you understand why the Vienna Circle was so important back in the 1920s, and still important in the 2020s. – Adam Tamas Tuboly, Review of History of Philosophy of Science Books

[A] lively new book. . . .Edmonds draws unexpected connections within the sprawling web of thinkers and artists in interwar Vienna. . . bringing to life the artistic and political flavour of those coffee-house debates – Jonathan Egid, Times Literary Supplement

Undercover Robot

If super-high-tech android Dotty can spend an entire year masquerading as a twelve-year-old schoolgirl, she could win a multi-million-pound prize that will enable her creators to continue their ground-breaking work in the development of AI. Easy-peasy, right? As Dotty navigates the social expectations of Year 7 she gets into a series of hilarious scrapes, and encounters numerous ethical dilemmas both at school and at home. Then a boy in her class discovers there’s a reward for outing the robot, and becomes intent on proving that Dotty is not who – or what – she says she is. To prevent herself from being discovered, Dotty needs to put into practice everything she has learned about being human. But will it be enough…?