7Serious. Sad. Informative. First-time author Devra Lehmann produces an outstanding explanation of the once-shocking philosophy of the now-revered Benedict de Spinoza. The detailed, chronological biography opens with a flashback to the most dramatic event in his life, also one of the most incredible in the history of Judaism: his 1656 excommunication in a staged synagogue ceremony replete with black candles, tolling bells, and curses. ...Lehmann’s thoughtful clarity validates Spinoza’s explosive impact on authority, tradition and religion.
—Jewish Book World, starred review
Lehmann's prose is clear and friendly and manages to make a complicated and dense topic readable and even entertaining. ..."[A] model of what intelligent, young adult non-fiction ought to look like.
—Yoel Finkelman, Bookjed Digest, Lookstein Center for Jewish Education, Bar-Ilan University
This insightful biography describes how Spinoza challenged traditional thinking of the time and racked up enemies as he wondered and wrote about the nature of God, the human constructs of good and evil, and the pursuit of reason.... Budding philosophers...will find a life worth examining.
— Booklist Online
7Part biography, part history, part exploration of Spinoza's philosophy: wholly engaging. . . . Throughout this ambitious and thorough narrative, Lehmann does an outstanding job of illuminating Spinoza's concepts in a clear, concise and logical manner and gives them contextual relevance by illuminating the pertinent political and social upheavals of the time. . . . Clarity, accessibility and spot-on relevance to issues facing modern society make this a must-read.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
In this lucid introduction to Spinoza’s life and thought, Lehmann walks readers through the contexts that led Spinoza to his belief that man’s chief responsibilities are to think for himself and follow the dictates of reason wherever they lead. ...[H]er clear prose and short chapters make this an accessible historical biography for young adults; her exploration of Spinoza’s relationship with Judaism gives the book particular interest for many collections.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Recommended
No one of good will can take exception to the simple and honest way in which Spinoza lived; he may truly be the first (and last) philosopher since Socrates to live according to his stated principles….Outcast Thinker impressed me with its clear style, strong attention to historical and intellectual context, and accessible explanations. Intellectual young adults will find much to appreciate in the book, as will teachers interested in providing students with supplementary reading materials….Outcast Thinker is highly recommended.
—Chris Freiler, Hinsdale Central High School, Hinsdale IL; reviewed in PLATO (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization: Engaging Young Philosophers)