Herbert Marcuse, Philosopher of Utopia

Herbert Marcuse, Philosopher of Utopia
A Graphic Biography
Foreword by Angela Y. Davis
Edited by Paul Buhle, Andrew T. Lamas

Review in Marx & Philosophy Review of Books
May 1, 2020

"Nick Thorkelson's Herbert Marcuse, Philosopher of Utopia: A Graphic Biography fills the bill wonderfully. Edited by Paul Buhle and Andrew T. Lamas, who are themselves scholars and activists in the Marcuse tradition, Thorkelson’s biography elegantly combines a basic life story of Marcuse from his childhood in Berlin to his death in 1979 with an informative summary of his ideas, his major works and his influence over others along the way. Thorkelson’s artistic style reveals a tendency toward the playful, with plenty of simple, even caricature-like drawings one might expect to see in an editorial cartoon, mixed with detailed tableaux that can heighten and give greater force to the text accompanying the imagery. Between direct quotes, references to pop music lyrics or protest songs, and even personal interviews with friends and family of Marcuse, Thorkelson—who at times even appears in the text himself, adding a touch of metafiction and personality to the whole affair—manages to produce a portrait of a man in full, the writer as well as teacher, husband, activist and 'reluctant guru’. The result is an engaging narrative that can be enjoyed by readers who know nothing of Marcuse and longtime Marcuse scholars alike."—Robert T. Tally Jr.

Review in Truthdig
Mar 1, 2020

"This new graphic biography may herald a Marcuse revival. . . . Its pictorial character is appealing to younger readers, and its biographical accuracy, philosophical sophistication, historical acuity, and incisive observations and commentary about Marcuse's social and political analyses make the volume equally attractive to scholars and educated laypersons. . . . Nick Thorkelson’s drawings add enormously to this narrative. He is a longtime graphic artist with a distinguished record of illustration, especially on radical and labor topics. He shows how effectively this medium can convey complex ideas in a thoroughly intriguing way."––Paul Von Blum

"Summer 2019 Indie Book Picks"
Jun 25, 2019

Herbert Marcuse: Philospher of Utopia appears on this list. "Boston-based cartoonist Thorkelson delivers a keen biography of thinker Herbert Marcuse. A German Jew coming of age in the turbulent times after World War I, Marcuse rubs elbows with everyone from Heidegger to Horkenheimer before finding relative safety in the U.S. There, he plugs into the social movements of the '60s and pens the influential One Dimensional Man, a scathing critique of consumerism. A smart accessible primer on a fascinating mind that never ceased to challenge the present 'with its own alternative possibilities.'"

- Broken Pencil

"The Life and Work of Radical Philosopher Herbert Marcuse"
Jun 13, 2019

Cartoonist Nick Thorkelson and editor Paul Buhle to talk about their new volume on radical philosopher Herbert Marcuse, whose ideas inspired the New Left of the 1960s and, according to Angela Davis, can be just as valuable today.

- WORT - A Public Affair

"While Combating Trump, We Must Set Our Sights on Total Liberation"
Jun 2, 2019

An interview with author Nick Thorkelson on Truthout. 

- Samantha Borek

"Philosopher Herbert Marcuse on the Rise of Fascism in Europe"
May 30, 2019

An excerpt from Herbert Marcuse: Philosopher of Utopia is published on Truthout.

- Nick Thorkelson

"Rediscovering the father of the new left; running a tree farm"
May 23, 2019

Herbert Marcuse, Philosopher of Utopia mentioned in Nina MacLaughlin's weekly column.

- Nina MacLaughlin

"Radical Critique, Utopian Aspirations"
Apr 24, 2019

Nick Thorkelson interviewed on KPFA's Against the Grain about Herbert Marcuse and his new graphic biography about him. 

- Sasha Lilley, Against the Grain

"Interview: Nick Thorkelson and Herbert Marcuse: Philosopher of Utopia"
Apr 23, 2019
- Henry Chamberlain

"Meet the Radical Philosopher Who Inspired the New Left"
Apr 16, 2019

An excerpt from Herbert Marcuse, Philosopher of Utopia appears in Yes! Magazine

- Nick Thorkelson

"Paul Buhle's Radical Renaissance"
Apr 15, 2019

A profile of Paul Buhle in Madison Magazine, detailing his relationship with City Lights Books and his work on Herbert Marcuse, Philosopher of Utopia. 

- Doug Moe

"Paul Buhle: A People's Historian"
Apr 12, 2019

Profile of Paul Buhle, mentions his recent work including Herbert Marcuse: Philosopher of Utopia

- Robert Birnbaum

Comics Grinder
Apr 12, 2019

"Nick Thorkelson has crafted quite an engaging book based on the life and work of one of the great philosophers of the modern era, Herbert Marcuse. … With a sense of great timing, Nick Thorkelson brings to the reader an essential and inspiring guide to one of our great thinkers. On each page, from one panel to the next, Mr. Thorkelson has condensed various bits of information into a seamless presentation that is easy on the eyes, both engaging and highly informative. The whole book is a delight as it is clearly organized and designed with a keen sense of style. Thorkelson's cartoons are highly sophisticated and such a pleasure to behold in their own right. You can say that the artwork expresses the Marcuse joie de vivre quite fittingly."––Henry Chamberlain

"Angela Davis on Protest, 1968, and Her Old Teacher, Herbert Marcuse"
Apr 3, 2019

Excerpt from Herbert Marcuse: Philosopher of Utopia in Lit Hub.

- Angela Davis/Nick Thorkelson

Mar 15, 2019

"This graphic biography serves as both a chronicle of his eventful, peripatetic life and an introduction to his philosophical works and political theories . . . thanks to Thorkelson's sprightly, cartoonish drawings and slightly irreverent approach."––Gordon Flagg

Foreword Reviews
Mar 1, 2019

"Nick Thorkelson tackles the formidable task of distilling the life and work of a respected modern philosopher into a well-paced graphic biography in Herbert Marcuse, Philosopher of Utopia. . . . serves as an excellent summary of Marcuse's ideas and his lasting influence."––Peter Dabbene

Publishers Weekly
Mar 1, 2019

"Thorkelson's thoroughly researched biography focuses on the ideas that made Marcuse a firebrand . . . it concisely sums up the antiestablishment leftist’s complex and evolving arguments on power, patriarchy, and human possibility . . . Thorkelson’s art, reminiscent of Larry Gopnick’s Cartoon History series, spices up panels with visual gags and broad caricatures. . . . a useful summary of Marcuse’s thinking . . ."

Library Journal
Jan 31, 2019

"Cartoonist Thorkelson (The Earth Belongs to the People) presents the life of philosopher Herbert Marcuse, a German émigré who escaped the Nazi regime and fled to the United States and taught at a variety of universities. Marcuse was a student of philosopher Martin Heidegger and worked to advance a synthesis of Hegel and Marx that pushed for liberation from the crushing intellectual and spiritual domination of capitalism. His major works include One-Dimensional Man and Eros and Civilization, which are still part of college courses today. Marcuse believed in a life of play and joy, and Thorkelson's somewhat cartoonish style befits this aspect despite the serious nature of the topic. Panels are rich in visual allusions, ranging from George Herriman’s Krazy & Ignatz comics to Eugène Delacroix’s painting Liberty Leading the People. Thorkelson further draws parallels with present-day left-wing concerns, enhancing the overall appeal for like-minded readers, assuming some familiarity with the personalities and philosophies of the intellectual left from the 1930s to the 1980s. For fans of graphic biographies, 20th-century philosophy, historical leftist ideology, and current radical political movements."––Evan M. Anderson