Synopses & Reviews
In this engaging history, James MacGregor Burns brings to vivid life the two-hundred-year conflagration of the Enlightenment, during which audacious questions and astonishing ideas tore across Europe and the New World, transforming thought, bringing down governments, and inspiring visionary political experiments that would ultimately reach every corner of the globe. Unlike most historians, Burns pays particular attention to America's intellectual revolution, beginning and ending his story on American soil. He discovers the origins of our domestic Enlightenment in men like Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson and their early encounters with incendiary European ideas about liberty and equality, and he highlights the role of thinkers like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. After all, it was the American founders, alone among Enlightenment thinkers, who actually carried through with their ideas.
Today the same questions Enlightenment thinkers grappled with have taken on new urgency around the world: in the blossoming Arab Spring, in the former Soviet Union, China, and in the United States. What should a nation be? What should a citizenry expect from its government? Who should lead and decide? How can citizens effect change? What is happiness, and what can the state contribute to it? Burns's exploration of the ideals and arguments that formed the bedrock of our nation shines a new light on these ever-important questions.
"A superb work of synthesis." ---Publishers Weekly
Pulitzer Prize�winning and bestselling historian James MacGregor Burns explores the most daring and productive intellectual movement in history, the European and American Enlightenment.
About the Author
James MacGregor Burns is the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Government Emeritus at Williams College and Distinguished Leadership Scholar at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland. He has also served as president of the American Political Science Association and of the International Society of Political Psychology. He is the author or coauthor of more than two dozen books, including Roosevelt: Soldier of Freedom, which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; Leadership, which is considered the seminal work in the field of leadership studies; Government by the People; and Running Alone: Presidential Leadership from JFK to Bush II-Why It Has Failed and How We Can Fix It. Norman Dietz is a writer, an actor, and a solo performer. Since 1962, he has toured coast to coast, presenting his work before audiences all over the United States and Canada. He is the author of the comic novel Nailing It, as well as Fables & Vaudevilles & Plays and The Lifeguard and the Mermaid, collections of his work for the stage. Norman has also performed frequently on radio and television, and he has recorded over 150 audiobooks, many of which have earned him awards from AudioFile magazine, the ALA, and Publishers Weekly. Additionally, AudioFile named Norman one of the Best Voices of the Century. He lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.