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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
I came to this book as a general reader with only the slightest knowledge of the Scottish Enlightenment and, to be honest, no appreciation of its significant and lasting impact on religious, political, economic, scientific, and aesthetic thinking right into the present day. On the back cover of the book, the Edinburgh Review is quoted and it is worth repeating: "an accessible primer on the main ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment." Broadie's book is accessible and I am all the more grateful for that fact as I reflect on the relevance of the ideas of the Enlightenment to my Western identity. In that sense, this is not dry history but rather essential content and context for today's political and "culture wars" and, indeed, why we resist the barbarian's demand that we submit and return to the 7th century. Mind you, that's just me talking; Broadies's "The Scottish Enlightenment" is not a polemic. It is forthright, unbiased history without any agenda other than, well, providing the reader with "an accessible primer" on the Scottish Enlightenment. I highly recommend this book. Important stuff, well delivered. Thank you, Alexander Broadie.
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46 of 61 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
As a person of mildly above average intelligence and a very broad range of interests, I often have friends suggest that I should try out for Jeopardy. My standard [and honest] response [regardless of whether the comment was meant as a compliment or an insult] is that I have incredibly large gaps in my knowledge and I'd probably stink at Jeopardy. Alexander Broadie and his scholarly AND entertaining book The Scottish Enlightenment came to rescue me from one of my more embarrassing knowledge gaps. You'd've figured a person with some Scottish blood in his veins and who teaches at a high school that has a Scottish theme and a Highlander as a mascot would know a whole bunch about the pivotal period in history know as the Scottish Enlightenment?! The knowledge gap surfaced when I read Jack Repcheck's recent biography of James Hutton [The Man Who Found Time]. I researched the available literature on the Scottish Enlightenment and Broadie's book appeared to have the qualities needed to plug my knowledge gap. Written for the interested reader, The Scottish Enlightenment was scholarly enough to give me the short course that I wanted, but interesting and idiosyncratic enough to avoid reading like a textbook. It left me feeling quite satisfied about my knowledge of the Scottish Enlightenment and, like any good book, left me with a few questions to explore further [the connection between the Scottish Enlightenment and the American Revolution - enquiring minds want to know!]. I highly recommend Alexander Broadie's book to anyone with an interest in history, Scotland, the Enlightenment, or the Scottish Enlightenment.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The Scottish Enlightenment

There are periods associated with great intellectual achievement; the Golden Age of Pericles; the art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance; the literary and philosophical genius of fin-de-siecle Vienna; the Dutch Grand Masters and the Golden Age of Holland; Victorian England and the St. Petersburg of Peter the Great who brought the culture of the West to the previously isolated Russia.

Then there is the lesser known Scottish Enlightenment, which brought together some of the finest minds in intellectual history. Pure and applied science flourished at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. Scientists developed new approaches to physics, chemistry, optics, mathematics and medicine. William Thompson (Later Lord Kelvin) developed major principles of thermodynamics; James Watt developed the steam engine, and William Cullen, a physician and chemist explored new frontiers, James Clerk Maxwell explained the mysteries of Saturn's rings and developed the principle of electromagnetism. James Hutton founded the modern science of geology which was expanded upon by James Playfair. The botanist Robert Brown discovered the important principle of Brownian Motion which was later to turn up in Einstein's theory of relativity. Visitors to Edinburgh were astonished that so much brilliance was to be encountered in this intellectual incubator in the cold, inhospitable climate of the Hebrides.

In recent years, there has been an outpouring of scholarly studies of the Scottish Enlightenment, among them Alexander Broadie's "The Scottish Enlightenment: The Historical Age of the Historical Nation" and "Crowded with Genius: The Scottish Enlightenment - Edinburgh's Moment of the Mind" by James Buchan.Crowded with Genius: The Scottish Enlightenment: Edinburgh's Moment of the Mind Most studies of the Scottish Enlightenment begin with David Hume and Francis Hutcheson , the most important moral philosophers of the movement, and Adam Smith, the first modern economist. A key element of their thought was skepticism - a refusal to accept on their face the arguments of ecclesiastic authority.
Within a relatively short time, the independent work of these various intellectuals began to circulate among the others, resulting in a synergistic effect. Broadie argues that enlighten-ment is more than freedom of thought, it is freedom of expression, without fear of reprisals from authorities.

How a grimy, overcrowded, heavily fortified Medieval city like Edinburgh became a vibrant, social intellectual center is the story of this book. Broadie occupies the same professorial seat at Glasgow University as Adam Smith, the founder of modern economics. The University has had, since its founding in 1451 prominent Enlightenment figures including Smith, Hucheson, physicist Lord Kelvin, James Watt, and numerous politicians including two British prime ministers and missionary=explorer David Livingston.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Great overview by the contribution of the Scots to our cultural history. I was hoping for more information on the scientific contribution by the Scots, however, it was a good overall philosophical review of this period.
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on March 17, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This is a very detailed work on the chosen topic. Written more like a text book. A hard read for the casual reader of history, which I am.
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on March 14, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book was difficult to rread.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book was very difficult to follow. If one wishes an one that is easy to read, choose "How the Scots Invented the Modern World."
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Thought I would learn something. It was just a lit of names without explanation or insight. You'd have to already have an in depth knowledge of Scottish history to understand it. Waste f money for me:(
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