Next book

CROWDED WITH GENIUS

THE SCOTTISH ENLIGHTENMENT: EDINBURGH’S MOMENT OF THE MIND

A readable companion to Arthur Herman’s like-minded How the Scots Invented the Modern World (2001).

A lively portrait of the city once called the “Athens of the north”—and for good reason.

As English novelist and journalist Buchan (Frozen Desire: The Meaning of Money, 1997, etc.) writes, the Edinburgh of 1745 was “inconvenient, dirty, old-fashioned, alcoholic, quarrelsome, and poor.” Then came the Battle of Culloden Moor, which has been called the last fight of the medieval era, and the de facto annexation of Scotland by England, all of which caused Scotland’s great minds to flock to the city; remake it by draining lochs, building bridges over gullies, and constructing sturdy houses and public buildings; and down a sea of coffee, tea, and whiskey while conjuring up marvelous ideas. In 1755, Diderot and company, Buchan writes, still devoted only “a single contemptuous paragraph” to the whole of Scotland, but only seven years later Voltaire was proclaiming that all the best ideas about everything “from epic poetry to gardening” were coming from the Scottish citadel. What had happened in that short span was nothing short of a Gaelic renaissance, in which philosophers such as David Hume, Adam Smith, and Adam Ferguson, poets such as James MacPherson and Robert Burns, and practical and theoretical scientists such as James Black and James Hutton were crossing disciplinary boundaries, talking with one another, and advancing new learning that quickly spread across the Western world. An Athens it may have been, but these celebrants made of Edinburgh (“a classical town rescued from the frigid by a Gothic town rescued from the grotesque,” Buchan writes in a memorable turn) a kind of Sparta, too, which insisted that commerce and industry were insufficient without virtu. Whatever the case, Buchan makes a good argument for its having been a great place to be. If he’s a little imprecise on how Edinburgh eventually became a vital center of European civilization, he does a nice job of describing daily life among its intellectual set, of charting their ideas, and of evoking days gone by.

A readable companion to Arthur Herman’s like-minded How the Scots Invented the Modern World (2001).

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-055888-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2003

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 29


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Finalist

Next book

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 29


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

Next book

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Close Quickview