Evening in the Palace of Reason

Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment

By James R. Gaines
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780007156610, 368pp.)

Publication Date: February 9, 2006

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Johann Sebastian Bach created what may be the most celestial and profound body of music in history; Frederick the Great built the colossus we now know as Germany, and along with it a template for modern warfare. Their fleeting encounter in 1757 signals a unique moment in history where belief collided with the cold certainty of reason. Set at the tipping point between the ancient and modern world, Evening in the Palace of Reason captures the tumult of the eighteenth century, the legacy of the Reformation, and the birth of the Enlightenment in this extraordinary tale of two men.

About the Author

A longtime journalist and the former editor of several magazines, including Time and People, James R. Gaines lives with his family in Paris.

Praise For Evening in the Palace of Reason

“James Gaines writes with great beauty and intelligence…an exciting saga that brings the turmoil of the Enlightenment alive.”
-Walter Isaacson, author of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

“History winningly told , with the immediacy of a great novel...Gaines paints a whole age with the skill of Tuchman.”
-Mary Karr, author of THE LIARS CLUB and CHERRY

“Evening in the Palace of Reason has given me enormous pleasure and instruction.”
-Jan Morris, author of A Writer’s House in Wales

“First rate...[Gaines] writes superbly and makes us feel at home with things that would have sounded arcane otherwise.”
-Daily Telegraph (London)

“A moving portrait...Gaines has a deep understanding of music and an infectious zeal for narrative history.”
-People (four stars)

“Gaines maps sweeping cultural history with dazzling virtuosity…You won’t find a more lucid and engaging guide.”
-Entertainment Weekly

“A book-length romp that is less like a B-Minor Mass than an Italian opera…Wonderful.”
-Harper's Magazine

“Gaines writes very accessibly…A marvelous story that will captivate the classical music audience.”

“Highly entertaining… Lovers of music, European history, and Western philosophy will find this book an enormous pleasure.”
-Library Journal (starred review)

“An eloquent and fascinating study, highly debatable at points yet all the more stimulating for that…Accessible and entertaining.”
-Time magazine

“Gaines elegantly sketches parallel biographies of the two protagonists....His enthusiasm is infectious.”
-New York Sun

“Intelligent, stylish, wryly witty, serious yet never solemn, and above all passionate in its celebration of a great composer.”
-The Guardian

“Articulate, well-informed and rigorous…Gaines makes this dauntingly technical subject accessible.”
-Sunday Telegraph

“Impossible to put down when one is dancing, swerving, stumbling through [the] extraordinary brilliance…a wonderfully engaging tale.”
-The Independent (Sunday)

“Lively…with a delicious cast of characters…Gaines shows himself a deft writer.”
-Denver Post

“Filled with sensible speculation and insights, Gaines’ books is a model for humanities writing.”
-San Antonio Express-News

“Gaines writes with admirable erudition…No author could want a more promising pair of antagonists.”
-New York Times Book Review

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