This is the modern world

I attended a book launch for Stephen Trombley’s “Fifty Thinkers Who Shaped The Modern World” recently, having met Stephen a few years ago at Carole Stone‘s club and discovered we have a mutual acquaintance in Richard Strange.   Stephen is a stunning personality.  An American author, filmmaker, musician and polymath.  He has undertaken a mammoth task here.  The concise history of modern thought from the enlightenment up till now.  Tombley has undertaken meticulous research and achieved the astonishing result of combining brevity with depth – that’s a rare achievement for such a weighty topic if you have ever read any philosophy.  Fifty Thinkers Who Shaped The Modern World makes a superb Christmas gift if you love elegance in thought and writing.

Trombley’s book contains chapters on Kant, Hegel, Darwin, Marx, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Emerson, Kierkegaard, Weber, Satre, Wittgenstein, Gandhi, Hitler, Freud, Einstein, Derrida and many more.  Of course, I was also personally looking for Madonna, Prince, Ozzy Osbourne, Lady Gaga and a few other rock philosophers, but I guess I’m not being entirely serious here.  Perhaps Stephen will oblige with a follow up on rock philosophers – hint, hint Stephen 🙂  Here’s a slice of Prince reflecting on the basket case that is the music industry:

Whilst we get our thinkers classified by their ‘genre’, Trombley also makes the connections between these genres, helping readers make useful comparisons and contradictions between the various schools of thought.   This is extremely useful in helping novices and experienced readers join the dots up.  There are so many different schools of thought that this is indeed a vital contribution.

If you are after a rapid introduction to philosophical thought then Trombley’s book is a must have.  As life throws up ever more challenges, we need quality thinking more than ever.  If we had better thinking in business and life we would make better decisions.   Time to put that iPhone down for a bit and have a good read …

The enigmatic philosopher formerly known as Stephen Trombley

To finish. let’s see The Jam performing “This is the Modern World”.  Paul Weller’s lyrics hardly reach the dizzy philosophical heights of Stephen’s book, but their works are just as exciting.


About the Blogger:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via


6 responses to “This is the modern world

  1. Excellent review – and makes me want to buy the book! Good to hear Modern World again – and seeing the remarkable similarity of looks between Paul Weller, Bradley Wiggins (new BBC Sports Personality of the Year and my mate, Paul Johnson, who is a PW fan, with a matching haircut!


  2. Take a look at the Harvard Business Review for December. It contains a fascinating article “Your Company’s History as a Leadership Tool”. The moral is that history is NOT just a thing of the past, but it should inform thinking in the present and the future.


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