Adrian Tinniswood

Reason’s Season

The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind

By

Bloomsbury 351pp £25 order from our bookshop

‘The seventeenth century is a very special period in human history,’ says A C Grayling on the opening page of The Age of Genius. ‘It is in fact the epoch in the history of the human mind.’

This is quite a claim, and Grayling goes about supporting it in rather an unusual way. Instead of the learned disquisition on Hobbes, Locke and Descartes that one might expect from such an eminent philosopher, the first third of the book – a hundred pages in total – offers a blow-by-blow account of the Thirty Years’ War, from the Defenestration of Prague right through to the Peace of Westphalia. We read about Tilly’s victory over Christian of Anhalt at the Battle of the White Mountain, the sack of Magdeburg and the death of Wallenstein, the Diet of Regensburg and the Edict of Restitution.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The breadth of Clarke’s knowledge and experience, coupled to a conspicuous absence of pomposity, makes for easy an… ,
    • In this month's Silenced Voices, Lucy Popescu shines a light on Myanmar's persecution of writers and journalists, p… ,
    • Lecture on war and peace in 19th-century Europe by Professor Sir Richard Evans, Thurs 25 Oct, 6.30pm Europe House… ,
    • 'Why, throughout the world, are so many people fascinated by the fiction and reality of espionage? And why of all p… ,
    • . here on books, Muriel Spark and life's tangled dance ,
    • RT : There aren't enough aggressive subtitles these days: ,
    • Churchill's on the cover of the October edition of the magazine. Piers Brendon reviews two new books about the Brit… ,