Saturday, October 1, 2011

Max Weber Biography

I'm halfway through the English translation of Joachim Radkau's recent biography of the great Greman social scientist Max Weber (Polity 2009), but I'm not sure I'll make it to the finish. Much of the book is excellent, but the author has too much of a taste for psycho-biography for my liking. His various surmises and speculations relating to Weber's lifelong struggles with depression, relationship with his mother (did she, rather than a hired nurse, beat him as a child?), preoccupation with nocturnal emissions, and the breakdown that interrupted his career, tell us as much or more, I think, about Radkau than about Weber.

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