Saturday, September 29, 2007

This morning I finished Crowded with Genius by James Buchan.

It's about Edinburgh in the second half of the 18th century, after the Second Jacobite Rising, when Scotland hosted many important intellectuals and artists of the Enlightenment, including David Hume, Adam Smith, James Boswell and Robbie Burns.

While it seems like an interesting topic, this book doesn't do a good job of presenting it. Buchan jumps from topic to topic and from year to year seemingly at random. He continually drops references in the early part of the book that are either not explained until later sections of the book or are not explained well at all. It ended up feeling like a collection of random anecdotes about people who lived in Edinburgh but had no connection or underlying theme to tie them together.

Quite disappointing.

Amazon Link: Crowded with Genius: The Scottish Enlightenment: Edinburgh's Moment of the Mind