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.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'To be clever without wanting to glory in it, put dimmer people down or make an act of covering it up (viz Boris Jo… ,
    • 'Her favourite design included a body in the shape of a horse, with a steam engine inside ... The passenger would t… ,
    • Sign up to our email newsletter below! Get free articles, highlights from the archive, and chances to win theatre… ,
    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,