Introducing Foucault: A Graphic Guide by Chris Horrocks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This illustrated guide offers a brief overview of the life and philosophy of Michel Foucault in bite-sized, readable topical blocks. The book is part of a series, a series that I frequently turn to when I need a blast of information on a topic of momentary interest (because the series is readily accessible via Prime.)
Generally, I’ve found the series to be mediocre, but I found this volume to be much more engaging than most. In part this is because Foucault’s work deals in intriguing subject matter. He wrote on madness, prisons / punishment, and sexuality. Saying that the subject matter was more interesting than usual may not sound like a ringing endorsement of the book or its author, but there are a couple things that I think Horrocks can be credited for doing well to make for a more compelling book. First, he doesn’t steer away from the controversial, either in Foucault’s biography or in his work. Second, he clearly and frequently states the criticisms of Foucault, making the book more thought-provoking and useful.
And Foucault did draw his share of criticism, his multi-disciplinary style combined with an approach that didn’t result in unambiguous answers and policy recommendations made many consider him wishy-washy, or irrelevant. And, of course, his brazen willingness to take on provocative topics made many uncomfortable.
If you’re looking for a book to figure out who this Foucault guy was and why people still talk about his work, this book is worth your consideration.
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