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The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers Paperback – November 1, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers remains one of the most distinctive American contributions to the historical literature on the Enlightenment.... [It] is likely to beguile and provoke readers for a long time to come."

From the Back Cover

"Will remain a classic-a beautifully finished literary product."-Charles A. Beard, American Historical Review; "The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers remains one of the most distinctive American contributions to the historical literature on the Enlightenment. . . . [It] is likely to beguile and provoke readers for a long time to come."-Johnson Kent Wright, from the foreword
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Product Details

  • Series: Yale Nota Bene
  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 2nd Revised ed. edition (November 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300101503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300101508
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.5 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #288,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Carl Becker's work is a classic in the field whether or not one agrees with his thesis. He contends that the French Enlightenment thinkers tried unsuccessfully to distance themselves from the religious mileaux from which they came. Looking back from a vantage point nearly 150 years later, it is clear that while their ideas were advanced, the "utopia" they sought to establish was closer to the thinkers of the Reformation period 300 years earlier than to thinkers of the latter 19th and early 20th centuries. Any serious student of this period should at least scan this author's work as all subsequent scholarship has had to stake a stand for or against his position - thus to understand scholarship in the past 20 years - read this book.
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Format: Paperback
I was prompted to write this review to give some balance to what a previous review stated. I encountered this book, for the first time, as an undergraduate in a history course. I was forever grateful to the professor for requiring its reading, and grateful to the author for his insightful and important work. I think this book should be mandatory reading in any history course emcompassing the period, and any course that looks to understand the genesis of the ideologies that permeate our period. I think the previous reviewer was very incorrect in her understanding of the issues and facts brought out by the book. I think the professor was serving his class, and profession, well by requiring the book. The book gives indispensable insights into the mind, and characters of the period. The thinking of that period still heavily influences contemporary American, European, and now global, political and social thought. Most readers will be very gratified having read the book, to see where their own thinking has been influenced and formed. The book is both scholarly and readable. There are great insights made that should not me be missed.
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Format: Hardcover
Some of the reviewers here characterize this work as shallow, rambling, self-contradictory, and the product of a lost soul. Nothing could be further from the truth. Carl Becker's essay is a wonderful addition to the historical analysis of our culture, our changing perspectives in it, and of our evolving mindsets. I believe it should be required reading of any college student, if only to broaden their horizons and step outside the parochial and into the universal.
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Format: Paperback
I certainly agree with the favorable review above. Having read Becker's work at Vanderbilt during my undergraduate years, I pulled it out the other day and traveled its pages with my underlining of 40 years ago. It is still the best work I have ever read that points to the fundamental thinkers that changed the world by sparking the 18th century revolutionary notion of the devine rights of mankind, the notion of societial freedom as the basis for productive and moral living and the notion, which is ultimately correct, that governments are evil at their very core and, as such, should be minimially powered and minimally intrusive upon citizens. The work outlines the philosophic roots of the thinking of the founders of the United States of America and the since evolved thinking of the governments of England and France. It was by these viens of thinking that the notions of representative government by election of the populace, inalienable rights, the notion of "human rights" and "civil rights" themselves were born. I am at a loss to understand how any right thinking individual could see the work as otherwise motivated--however many in our world, communities, and especially in our academic ivory towers of today have lost reason and faith in simple truth in favor of caretaker world societies and rank sensualism and materialism. They run from the notion that our rights have origin in a heavenly charter that comes from a supreme being. It is that frightened character that we so often see today snarling out of bitter university perpetuants who see life and society as unjust and unfair because their "genius" is not appreciated and awarded laurels by the whole of our society. We had these bitter little minds in schools that I attended 50 years ago, and they are still with us--and flourishing. Think for yourself--read this book. It will give you insight that you may not find elsewhere. ----JCH
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