Ray Monk is a name that anyone interested in Wittgenstein will learn quickly--Monk's claim to fame in the Ludwig world is his throughly researched Duty of Genius, which remains the most important biographical resource for anyone interested in Wittgenstein's actual life. It's also an immensely readable book, compelling and understandable--a claim that none can honestly make for everything Wittgenstein actually wrote. The "How To Read" series is a new version of an old publishing maxim--that if it's hard to understand, a book about understanding it is always gonna sell. In the case of Wittgenstein, an author who only published one book and one critical essay, neither of which are what any mildly educated individual would call an "easy" read, this couldn't be more true. In Wittgenstein's case, his posthumous publications rival that of Tupac Shakur--from the widely known Philosophical Investigations to his personal religious correspondence, if people have found a page the man wrote on, it's been printed. None of this has done much to help the widespread comprehension of his ideas; if anything, it's made widespread agreement on what his ideas even were the only main focus among those (college professors and thesis writers) who might be able to explain it to us. It might not be another hundred years before Wittgenstein is nailed down in a philosophy textbook--as it is now, his chapter is usually prefaced with some indication that "we don't really know what this guy was getting on about, but we think it was probably something like this." Although How To Read won't bring anyone a final answer on Wittgenstein, it can help fan the winding fires of motivation to figure it out for oneself--after all, Ray Monk should know this cat better than anyone, yet he's kind enough to let the reader in on his secret early on: He's not that sure about Wittgenstein himself. Considering that, at no point in the pages, does Monk ever let anyone in on his own impressive credentials as a pre-eminent Wittgenstein scholar, that's a pretty attractive achievement. For anyone who has ever wondered who this Austrian was, and why his name is still coming up as a intellectual heavyweight, How To Read is a book they shouldn't be ashamed to look into. Unlike Nietzsche, Ludwig wrote the kind of philosophy that maturity won't force anyone to grow out of.
-Tucker Stone, 2007