Pulitzer Prize–winning and bestselling historian James MacGregor Burns explores the most daring and productive intellectual movement in history, the European and American Enlightenment.
In this engaging history, James MacGregor Burns brings to vivid life the
two-hundred-year conflagration of the Enlightenment, during which
audacious questions and astonishing ideas tore across Europe and the New
World, transforming thought, bringing down governments, and inspiring
visionary political experiments that would ultimately reach every corner
of the globe. Unlike most historians, Burns pays particular attention
to America’s intellectual revolution, beginning and ending his story on
American soil. He discovers the origins of our domestic enlightenment in
men like Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson and their
early encounters with incendiary European ideas about liberty and
equality, and he highlights the role of thinkers like James Madison and
Alexander Hamilton. After all, it was the American founders, alone among
Enlightenment thinkers, who actually carried through with their ideas.
the same questions Enlightenment thinkers grappled with have taken on
new urgency around the world: in the blossoming Arab Spring, in the
former Soviet Union, China, and in the United States. What should a
nation be? What should a citizenry expect from its government? Who
should lead and decide? How can citizens effect change? What is
happiness, and what can the state contribute to it? Burns’ exploration
of the ideals and arguments that formed the bedrock of our nation shines
a new light on these ever-important questions. Download and start listening now!