The Roads to Modernity

The British, French, and American Enlightenments

By Gertrude Himmelfarb
(Vintage Books, Paperback, 9781400077229, 304pp.)

Publication Date: August 9, 2005

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Description
In an elegant, eminently readable work, one of our most distinguished intellectual historians gives us a brilliant revisionist history. The Roads to Modernity reclaims the Enlightenment-an extraordinary time bursting with new ideas about human nature, politics, society, and religion--from historians who have downgraded its importance and from scholars who have given preeminence to the Enlightenment in France over concurrent movements in England and America.Contrasting the Enlightenments in the three nations, Himmelfarb demonstrates the primacy and wisdom of the British, exemplified in such thinkers as Adam Smith, David Hume, and Edmund Burke, as well as the unique and enduring contributions of the American Founders. It is their Enlightenments, she argues, that created a social ethic-humane, compassionate, and realistic-that still resonates strongly today, in America perhaps even more than in Europe.The Roads to Modernity is a remarkable and illuminating contribution to the history of ideas.



About the Author
Gertrude Himmelfarb is the author of many books, including intellectual biographies of Acton, Darwin, and Mill; essays on the Victorians, including Victorian Minds; the social history studies The Idea of Poverty and The De-Moralization of Society; and reflections on contemporary culture, On Looking into the Abyss and One Nation, Two Cultures.
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