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the Complete Review
the complete review - comic


Apostolos Doxiadis
Christos H. Papadimitriou

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the authors

To purchase Logicomix

Title: Logicomix
Authors: A.Doxiadis/C.H.Papadimitriou
Genre: Comic
Written: 2008 (Eng. 2009)
Length: 344 pages
Original in: Greek
Availability: Logicomix - US
Logicomix - UK
Logicomix - Canada
Logicomix - France
  • Greek title: Logicomix
  • An Epic Search for Truth
  • Illustrated by Alecos Papadatos, with coloring by Annie Di Donna

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Our Assessment:

B- : occasionally interesting approach; colorful

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 3/10/2009 Alex Bellos
The Independent . 2/9/2009 John Walsh
New Statesman . 1/10/2009 .
The NY Times Book Rev. . 27/9/2009 Jim Holt
Salon . 13/12/2009 Laura Miller
San Francisco Chronicle . 11/10/2009 John McMurtrie
Time . 8/12/2009 Lev Grossman
The Washington Post . 15/11/2009 Dan Kois

  Review Consensus:

  Like it a lot

  From the Reviews:
  • "The authors tell the story with a humour and lightness of touch that pokes fun at the philosophers and mathematicians involved, but never trivialises the philosophy or the mathematics." - Alex Bellos, The Guardian

  • "It's an extraordinary piece of work: the arid title, Logicomix, seems to suggest a genre of brisk, strip-cartoon guides to hard philosophy, like the popular Icon series (eg Introducing Aristotle) instead of an absorbing 350-page narrative about how the search for logic and first principles drove most of its practitioners round the twist and threatened to do the same to the 3rd Earl Russell in the early 20th century." - John Walsh, The Independent

  • "With an ingenious meta-narrative (the authors make regular appearances throughout to express reservations about their project), precise artwork and a highly technical glossary, it manages to locate something in Russell's story that perhaps only a graphic novel could: the unmistakable stylishness of his work, which was as thrilling as its substance." - New Statesman

  • "All of this is presented with real graphic verve. (Even though I’m a text guy, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the witty drawings.) To ginger up the story, the authors often deviate from the actual facts." - Jim Holt, The New York Times Book Review

  • "What Logicomix niftily demonstrates is how well the graphic novel form is suited to mounting sprightly explanations of abstract concepts. (...) True, the book's treatment of Russell's ideas is far from detailed, and you won't come away from it with any logical expertise. But Logicomix succeeds at something far more rare, which is to coax, beguile and amuse the reader into thinking about the most momentous of questions with a light heart." - Laura Miller, Salon

  • "Of all the graphic novels out there about dead white male logicians, there is one you must read. Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth is like no other book of its kind." - John McMurtrie, San Francisco Chronicle

  • "Apostolos Doxiadis' charming dialogue and Alecos Papadatos' simple, affecting drawings give the story an immediacy and approachability that nothing else could." - Lev Grossman, Time

  • "Logicomix is an engaging, energetic work that makes big ideas accessible without dumbing them down." - Dan Kois, The Washington Post

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Logicomix is a metafictional retelling of Bertrand Russell's life and 'epic search for truth', in fictionalized -- and comic-book -- form. As Doxiadis tells Papadimitriou early on -- yes, amusingly enough, the writers and artists figure in the story, as they debate how to present the story along the way --: "You see, this isn't your typical, usual comic book".
       Why the comic book form ?

The form is perfect for stories of heroes in search of great goals.
       Bertrand Russell is the central figure; his life, the experiences that shaped him, and his logical pursuits (and a few others) the main part of the work. Yet the authors also find it necessary to change some of the facts; as they explain in an afterword on 'Logicomix and reality':
our book is definitely not -- nor does it want to be -- a work of history. It is -- and wants to be -- a graphic novel.
       The most amusing and successful parts of the work are those which involve the authors and artists in debate and trying to figure out how to present the material. Doxiadis, for example, suggests: "Christos would like us ideally to write a comic book "Theoretical Computer Science for Morons" !", while he sees the more passionate potential in the material, wanting to shape: "a tragedy with logicians as heroes !"
       A good deal of maths (and logic) is also presented, at least at a very basic level; overall, the authors seem much more interested in the 'human' side of the characters (frequently noting and describing that many logicians also had unbalanced minds, for example). It's an adequate primer into some of the basic concepts of the foundations of mathematics and logic, including Russell's ambitions with his (and Whitehead's) Principia through the work of Gödel and Wittgenstein. Throughout, connections are also made to real-life events as well -- Russell and his love-life, Russell and his pacifism, Wittgenstein going off to war, Wittgenstein trying his hand as a primary school teacher, etc.
       It makes for a colorful and very busy book, but throughout it's always also clear that it's a comic book, and the illustrations -- while accomplished enough -- don't help much with the story (or stories). It's all so basic and rushed, the quick joke and the melodramatic -- "Ach, Russell, I am in such pain !" Wittgenstein agonizes in one of the worst panels -- so dominant that they drown out most of what little substance and depth there is.
       A more colorful -- and much fatter -- version of the old The Beginners Series, Logicomix is pass-time readable, story-packed (it's a very busy book -- though filled more with snapshots of incidents than actual substance), and the sort of thing that kids might enjoy digging into, but it's still comic-book flimsy.

- M.A.Orthofer, 19 April 2010

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Logicomix: Reviews: Christos H. Papadimitriou: Other books by Christos H. Papadimitriou under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Authors:

       Greek writer Apostolos Doxiadis (Απόστολος Δοξιάδης) was born in 1953.

       Christos H. Papadimitriou (Χρίστος Χ. Παπαδημητρίου) teaches computer science at the University of California, Berkeley.

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© 2010 the complete review

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