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It was in Edinburgh that a unique gathering of the finest minds of the day came together and made breathtaking innovations in architecture, politics, science, the arts and economics, all of which continue to echo loudly today. This was a time of radical upheaval and advancement, and a place of such cerebral stature as to rival the Athens of Socrates. Adam Smith penned "The Wealth of Nations." James Boswell produced "The Life of Samuel Johnson." Alongside them, pioneers -- such as the philosophers David Hume and Adam Ferguson, the poet Robert Burns, the chemist James Black, the geologist James Hutton, and the novelist Sir Walter Scott -- transformed the way we understand our perceptions and feelings, sickness and health, relations between the sexes, the natural world, and the purpose of existence.
In "Crowded with Genius," James Buchan, himself a Scot with a strong attachment to this history, beautifully reconstructs the intimate geographic scale and boundless intellectual milieu of Enlightenment Edinburgh. With the scholarship of a historian and the elegance of a novelist, he tells the story of the triumph of this unlikely town and the men whose vision brought it into being. Buchan has written anextraordinary account of the movement that turned Edinburgh from a city under siege into a hotbed of brilliant achievements that changed the course of history and gave birth to the modern mind.
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