The Age of Reason introduces the Mainstream of Modern World History Series, under the general editorship of John Gunther, which is a companion study to the Mainstream of America Series. Sir Harold Nicolson's extensive and illuminating study is neither political nor military history but an examination of the lives of those men and women whom he feels represented the spirit of their age. He presents then a ""gallery of portraits"" revealing the faults and virtues and the changing states of mind of a time which marked the transition from the disciplines of the established order to the growth of individual analysis and doubt. He deals with over thirty famous characters of the 18th century, among them Saint Simon, Peter the Great, Voltaire, Jonathan Swift, Benjamin Franklin, Horace Walpole, Samuel Johnson, Tom Paine, J.J. Rousseau; and with such phenomena as the French Salons and European reaction to the American colonies. From this treatment of a vast variety of ideas and temperaments three distinct phases of the Age of Reason emerge; the crumbling of the ancien regime, the triumph of skepticism and, in reaction, the cultivation of sensibility. The series is directed towards schools and libraries but the general reader interested in the history of ideas would find this particular volume exceptionally appealing.