Synopses & Reviews
In the early eighteenth century, Edinburgh was a filthy backwater town synonymous with poverty and disease. Yet by century's end, it had become the marvel of modern Europe, home to the finest minds of the day and their breathtaking innovations in architecture, politics, science, the arts, and economics—all of which continue to echo loudly today.
Adam Smith penned The Wealth of Nations. James Boswell produced The Life of Samuel Johnson. Alongside them, pioneers such as David Hume, Robert Burns, James Hutton, and Sir Walter Scott transformed the way we understand our perceptions and feelings, sickness and health, relations between the sexes, the natural world, and the purpose of existence.
In Crowded with Genius, James Buchan beautifully reconstructs the intimate geographic scale and boundless intellectual milieu of Enlightenment Edinburgh. With the scholarship of a historian and the elegance of a novelist, he tells the story of the triumph of this unlikely town and the men whose vision brought it into being.
“Entertainingly drawn…Buchan makes difficult subjects accessible and, sometimes, poetic.” Economist
“James Buchan tells the extraordinary story with a novelists narrative zip and brilliant flashes of detail...[A] marvellous book.” Ferdinand Mount, The Sunday Times
“Buchan writes well and does a fine job arguing for Edinburghs disproportionately large impact on 18th century intellectual history.” Publishers Weekly
“A vivid, gripping account ... An involving tale of cerebral passion and humanist achievement.” Edmund White
“Hugely readable and comprehensive…an utterly compelling and captivating work…An absolute joy to read.” Irvine Welsh, The Guardian
“A sparkling and cleverly written book.” Arthur Herman, The Scotsman
“An extraordinary story…lovingly narrated and superbly depicted by Buchan in this elegant, authoritative work.” The Observer
About the Author
James Buchan is a novelist and critic. He is the author of The Persian Bride, a New York Times Notable Book, as well as Frozen Desire, an examination of money that received the Duff Cooper Prize. He has also won the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize. Buchan is a contributor to the New York Times Book Review and the New York Observer, and a former foreign correspondent for the Financial Times. He lives in Norfolk, England.