A Wicked Company: The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment

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Basic Books, May 8, 2012 - History - 384 pages
3 Reviews
A Wicked Company tells the remarkable story of Baron Thierry Holbach's Parisian salon, an epicenter of freethinking that brought together the greatest minds of the 18th century. Over wine-soaked dinner parties, the finest intellectuals of the Western world—figures such as Denis Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, Adam Smith, Horace Walpole, and Benjamin Franklin—matched wits and scandalized one another with their own ever-more-provocative ideas. Writers of genius all, full of wit and courage (but also personal contradictions, doubts, conflicts of conscience, and their fair share of open arguments and love affairs), this group of friends embodied an astonishing radicalism in European thought, so uncompromising and bold that its bracing, liberating, humanist vision has still not been fully realized. As acclaimed historian Philipp Blom shows, these thinkers' analysis of our culture remains as valid as it was then, and has lost little of its potential to shock—or to force us to confront with new eyes debates about our society and its future.
 

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User Review  - kant1066 - LibraryThing

This is an interesting book that provides some little-known connections between the larger-known set of ideas that we largely recognize as the "Enlightenment," and is especially aimed at the general ... Read full review

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User Review  - michaelbartley - LibraryThing

I love the enlightenment, it is one of my favorite eras of history. this is a wonderful book about the ideas and socity of that time. it focus on diderot, the main ed. of the encyolopedie, it shows that he actually had to more modern mind. an excellent book Read full review

Contents

1
91
ONLY THE WICKED MAN LIVES ALONE
113
MARVELOUS MACHINES
131
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
217
THE MOST UNGRATEFUL
231
THE EMPRESS AND THE BEAN KING
257
SEX IN PARADISE
271
FIFTY HIRED PRIESTS
291
Epilogue A STOLEN REVOLUTION
305
A Glossary ofProtagonists
319
133
352
165
359
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About the author (2012)

Philipp Blom was born in Hamburg and trained as a historian in Vienna and Oxford. He is the author of The Vertigo Years, Enlightening the World, and To Have And To Hold. He frequently contributes articles to the Financial Times, the Independent, and the Guardian among others. A host of cultural programming on Austrian National Radio, he lives in Vienna.

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