The Spinoza Problem: A Novel Audiobook, by Irvin D. Yalom Play Audiobook Sample

The Spinoza Problem: A Novel Audiobook

The Spinoza Problem: A Novel Audiobook, by Irvin D. Yalom Play Audiobook Sample
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Read By: Traber Burns Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 9.33 hours at 1.5x Speed 7.00 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: February 2019 Format: Unabridged Audiobook ISBN: 9781982623913

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:


Longest Chapter Length:

52:50 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

08:45 minutes

Average Chapter Length:

23:22 minutes

Audiobooks by this Author:


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Publisher Description

When sixteen-year-old Alfred Rosenberg is called into his headmaster’s office for anti-Semitic remarks he made during a school speech, he is forced, as punishment, to memorize passages about Spinoza from the autobiography of the German poet Goethe. Rosenberg is stunned to discover that Goethe, his idol, was a great admirer of the Jewish seventeenth-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza. Long after graduation, Rosenberg remains haunted by this “Spinoza problem”: how could the German genius Goethe have been inspired by a member of a race Rosenberg considers so inferior to his own, a race he was determined to destroy?

Spinoza himself was no stranger to punishment during his lifetime. Because of his unorthodox religious views, he was excommunicated from the Amsterdam Jewish community in 1656, at the age of twenty-four, and banished from the only world he had ever known. Though his life was short and he lived without means in great isolation, he nonetheless produced works that changed the course of history.

Over the years, Rosenberg rose through the ranks to become an outspoken Nazi ideologue, a faithful servant of Hitler, and the main author of racial policy for the Third Reich. Still, his Spinoza obsession lingered. By imagining the unexpected intersection of Spinoza’s life with Rosenberg’s, internationally bestselling novelist Irvin D. Yalom explores the mindsets of two men separated by 300 years. Using his skills as a psychiatrist, he explores the inner lives of Spinoza, the saintly secular philosopher, and of Rosenberg, the godless mass murderer.

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“Why was Nazi leader and propagandist Alfred Rosenberg so obsessed with the seventeenth-century Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza?…The author, a psychiatrist, explores this strange juxtaposition of two historical figures with strongly held beliefs and totally different ideas of right and wrong.”

— Booklist 


  • “Yalom does a masterful job in bringing to life Spinoza and his philosophy and connecting it to the apocalyptic history of Nazi Germany and the persona of Alfred Rosenberg. It’s the sort of temporal alchemy and alchemy of science and fiction that Yalom does so well.”

    — Abraham Verghese, New York Times bestselling author
  • “An accessible introduction to Spinoza’s complex philosophy.”

    — Washington Post
  • “The Spinoza Problem covers a vast amount of extraordinary historical territory.”

    — San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Filled with vivid descriptions of place and bursting with brilliant insights…Highly original and absorbing.”

    — Jewish Book World
  • “A gifted storyteller…The two tales amount to a mystery novel, although it is a mystery of a very cerebral kind.”

    — Jewish Journal
  • “Highly intriguing…Yalom’s ability to make complex ideas and theories accessible is what makes his novels so popular.”

    — Tucson Citizen
  • “Imaginative and erudite.”

    — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • “Yalom is the perfect author to bring together Spinoza and Rosenberg in a novel…A highly intriguing exploration of the connection between a Jewish philosopher and a Nazi ideologue.”

    — Shelf Awareness

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About Irvin D. Yalom

Irvin D. Yalom, MD, is an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and a psychiatrist in private practice in San Francisco. He is the author of many books, including Love’s Executioner, Theory and Practice in Group Psychotherapy, and When Nietzsche Wept.

About Traber Burns

Traber Burns worked for thirty-five years in regional theater, including the New York, Oregon, and Alabama Shakespeare festivals. He also spent five years in Los Angeles appearing in many television productions and commercials, including Lost, Close to Home, Without a Trace, Boston Legal, Grey’s Anatomy, Cold Case, Gilmore Girls, and others.