I studied existentialism back in school and I learned more by reading this book than in the half year of studying Jean Paul Satres work when I was 16. I didn´t fully grasp his notions about freedom and I´m blaming my teacher for it, because she didn´t give us the historical context of Satres philosophical musings. And this is exactly what Sarah Bakewell does.
At the Existentialist Café is a fascinating account of existentialism and phenomenology and the big players of these philosophies. Besides explaining the different theories of Satre, de Beauvior, Camus, Heidegger and a handful of others philosophers of the time, Bakewell tells of the lives of the various philosophers, their friendships and their falling-outs and how they dealt with the difficult times they were living in.
I have to admit, I didn´t fully grasp all of the theories. But I immensely enjoyed learning about history from a totally different perspective. A highly recommended read.