Yours Faithfully, Bertrand Russell: A Life Long Fight for Peace, Justice, and Truth in Letters to the Editor

Yours Faithfully, Bertrand Russell: A Life Long Fight for Peace, Justice, and Truth in Letters to the Editor

Yours Faithfully, Bertrand Russell: A Life Long Fight for Peace, Justice, and Truth in Letters to the Editor

Yours Faithfully, Bertrand Russell: A Life Long Fight for Peace, Justice, and Truth in Letters to the Editor

Synopsis

"Bertrand Russell was one of the twentieth century's greatest philosophers. His astonishingly productive life spanned nearly a hundred years (1872-1970) and his contributions to global thought - in philosophy, science, mathematics, politics, education, and literature - are prodigious. Yet Russell was more than a great intellect; he was also a political animal. From the beginning of his long professional life he emphasized the importance of practice as well as theory. He was twice imprisoned by the British government for his political utterances. With his razor-sharp irony and morally impassioned rhetoric, Russell took on the forces of injustice, ignorance, and cruelty; one of his chief weapons was the letter to the editor. Russell wrote approximately 400 letters to the editor, of which three-quarters are reproduced in this volume. He often repeated arguments in several letters; the ones collected here include virtually every substantive argument he ever made in a letter to the editor. The letters give us a clear vision of Russell as public gadfly, exposing the unreason of our rulers, and defending human happiness against the evils of the day, including British conscription in World War I, Fascism in the 1930s, McCarthyism in the 1950s, and the peril of nuclear annihilation throughout the Cold War." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Bertrand Russell's letters to the editor give us a unique look at one of the most important philosophers, and one of the most oustanding fighters for justice and peace, of the past one hundred years.

Russell was a great and prodigious writer, penning some 80 books and thousands of articles during his long and active life and receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. He made special use of the letter to the editor as a principal means of connection with, and persuasion of, the body politic. This is especially true of his anti-nuclear campaign of the late 1950s and early 1960s; it is true as well of his revelatory criticisms of the American intervention in Vietnam in the mid-1960s.

Yours Faithfully, Bertrand Russell is a collection of Russell's letters to the editor between 1904 and 1969. (A few other documents, not strictly letters, are included, but the great majority are letters to the editor.) All of Russell's known letters to the editor, about 400 in toto, were carefully read and culled for duplication, leaving nearly 300 letters which are presented here. The letters, on a wide variety of topics, are arranged chronologically in six Parts representing six historical periods. Since Russell's public life was largely focused on the prevention of war and the preservation of humanity, these six historical periods are very naturally demarcated according to the chronology of World War I, World War II, and the Cold War, with the Cold War being divided at the end of 1962, after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Although the theme of war and peace largely defined Russell's public life, many other topics are also covered in these letters.

I have provided a brief introduction to each Part to give the reader a sense of the historical context of Russell's life and an overview of his activity during that period, and I have given each letter a brief introduction where additional information is needed.

To help the reader navigate among a plethora of letters, Parts III–VI have been organized into topics, including human rights and civil liberties, war and peace, education, and philosophy and religion. In some of the letters, Russell refers to people, places, and events that some read-

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