A revelatory Alpine journey in the spirit of the great Romantic thinker Friedrich Nietzsche Hiking with Nietzsche: Becoming Who You Are is a tale of two philosophical journeys--one made by John Kaag as an introspective young man of nineteen, the other seventeen years later, in radically different circumstances: he is now a husband and father, and his wife and small child are in tow. Kaag sets off for the Swiss peaks above Sils Maria where Nietzsche wrote his landmark work Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Both of Kaag's journeys are made in search of the wisdom at the core of Nietzsche's philosophy, yet they deliver him to radically different interpretations and, more crucially, revelations about the human condition. Just as Kaag's acclaimed debut, American Philosophy: A Love Story, seamlessly wove together his philosophical discoveries with his search for meaning, Hiking with Nietzsche is a fascinating exploration not only of Nietzsche's ideals but of how his experience of living relates to us as individuals in the twenty-first century. Bold, intimate, and rich with insight, Hiking with Nietzsche is about defeating complacency, balancing sanity and madness, and coming to grips with the unobtainable. As Kaag hikes, alone or with his family, but always with Nietzsche, he recognizes that even slipping can be instructive. It is in the process of climbing, and through the inevitable missteps, that one has the chance, in Nietzsche's words, to "become who you are."
The question, ultimately, is whether Nietzsche's philosophy, so attuned to lurking monstrous urges, can be of use in daily life. Kaag's answer is both elliptical and profound, manifesting a deep understanding of his subject matter. --The New Yorker
Kaag is a lively storyteller who brings Nietzsche's life into continual contact with his own . . . [He] challenges his readers to be what they might become. --Steven B. Smith, The New York Times Book Review
A stimulating book about combating despair and complacency with searching reflection. --Heller McAlpin, NPR.org
Call it philosophy. Call it memoir. This is a book with verve. Read it at the risk of being drawn in to your own becoming. --Scott F. Parker, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Kaag has carved out a genre all his own, a genre with the promise to narrow some of the gaps between the esoteric and the familiar, the academic and the non-academic, the philosopher and the self-help guru. For those with Kaag's unusual mixture of philosophical sophistication and narrative skill, it is a genre well worth emulating." --John F. Muller, Los Angeles Review of Books