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The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents (The Bedford Series in History and Culture) [Paperback]

Margaret C. C. Jacob
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 4, 2000 0312179979 978-0312179977
In an unusually diverse collection, Margaret Jacob presents the eighteenth-century movement known as the Enlightenment that forever changed the political, religious, and educational landscape of the day. Selections by some of the period’s most important thinkers include pieces by Locke, Rousseau, Mary Wortley Montagu, Denis Diderot, and Moses Mendelssohn. She covers the movement’s lengthy evolution in a comprehensive introduction, which establishes the issues central to understanding the documents and provides important background on the political and social debates of the period. All documents are preceded by headnotes, and the volume includes a chronology, 14 illustrations, a bibliography, and an index.

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Editorial Reviews


'This is an excellent collection. The clear and elegant introduction usefully discusses many current topics of interest regarding the Enlightenment, including the role of religion; the cultural processes of criticism; the social and gender status of the 'enlightened', and attitudes towards non-European societies and peoples. The well-chosen documents, combined with the author's fine introduction, should make this a very effective text for use in the classroom.' - John Marshall, Johns Hopkins University 'Jacob's introduction provides an original understanding of the Enlightenment, in particular through its exceptionally international treatment that explores England, France and deeper into the continent. The author is also very successful at merging more traditional intellectual history with newer approaches.The selection of documents gives the reader an excellent sense of the range of issues that absorbed the philosophers.' - Jack R. Censer, George Mason University

About the Author

Margaret C. Jacob is professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has published widely on science, religion, freemasonry, and the origins of the Industrial Revolution. A past Guggenheim and Fulbright fellow, Jacob has received grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her first book, The Newtonians and the English Revolution (1976), won the Gottschalk prize from the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, of which she was president from 1997 to 1998. Her most recent book is Scientific Culture and the Making of the Industrial West (1997).

Product Details

  • Series: The Bedford Series in History and Culture
  • Paperback: 237 pages
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's (October 4, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312179979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312179977
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightenment 101 May 3, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Enlightenment: Brief History with Documents (Bedford Series in History and Culture)
This is a brief, but concise, overview of the ideas spawned by the Enlightenment. The author provides documents to illustrate the the ideas of major figures of the enlightenment. The author indicates this book as suitable for a one week course session on the Enlightenment. Here we see the formative ideas of individual freedom, religious tolerance, and government by the will of the people displayed in the various source documents. Not an exhaustive treatment, but an excellent tickler to the study of this most important period in the history of human freedom.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, an understandable narrative of the Enlightenment February 25, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of my hobbies is reading history text books, and recently I wanted to focus on the Enlightenment. I was especially interested in finding out how this movement integrated into the concurrent and subsequent events in Europe, like the Glorious Revolution in England, and the Dutch and French Revolutions. Ms. Jacob organizes the information perfectly, and writes in a comfortable and easily read narrative style. Her comparisons of one player to the next, i.e. Diderot vs. Rousseau, render clear and valuable distinctions. She also includes the documents of these same players, which allows for an easy and deeper understanding of these fine "thinkers."

I did find it amusing that Ms.Jacob presents Lady Mary Montague on a par with Voltaire, Locke and Hobbes. We would have to guess that Ms. Jacob is probably a serious feminist, and being such, that it sometimes gets in the way of her otherwise healthy perspective.

Previously, I had read Jonathan Israel's "Revolution of the Mind" in which he tries to focus on the more radical, and later period of the movement. While Israel's grasp of knowledge of these times seems robust, his organization and writing are wanting. Because of his employment of extraordinarily long, and extraordinarily compound sentences, without the convenience of commas, reading his book becomes a tedious labor.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good survey of the Enlightenment May 14, 2008
By Mulcite
After reading a bunch of these Bedford series in History books for a history class, I have really come to appreciate them. They are all pretty short, smooth reads that give a historical overview of the time, then include selections of documents written during that time related to the topic or whatever. As only having a vague knowledge of such things as the Enlightenment before reading these books my knowledge and understanding of such has been greatly increased, and I feel like the history is pretty well covered for the purpose of simple survey; in any case it's a good way to start learning about the time and point one in the right direction if further interested. I plan on reading a bunch more of these just on some parts of history that I'm rather ignorant about or only partially interested in, just to have a basic idea of the period and place. I particularly enjoyed this book on the Enlightenment simply because it was a really exciting time in history to reflect on and see the variety of new thoughts of new thinkers.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classroom Resource May 29, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this for my students as a classroom resource. They find it readable and of good value in their work. Good introduction.
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