If there is a linchpin to understanding modern European history, it lies in the period of religious strife & scientific progress between the 1550s & 1650s. In The Age of Reason Begins, Will & Ariel Durant bring together a fascinating network of stories in their discussion of the bumpy road toward the Enlightenment. This is the age of great monarchs & greater artists: on the one hand, Elizabeth the First of England, Philip II of Spain & Henry IV of France; on the other, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Montaigne & Rembrandt. It also encompasses the heyday of Bacon, Galileo, Giordano Bruno & Descartes--the fathers of modern science & philosophy. But it is equally an age of extreme violence, a moment in which all Europe was embroiled in the horrible Thirty Years' War--in some respects, the real First World War. Whatever the case, this is a chapter in cultural history one can't set aside.
"Mr & Mrs Durant are admirably lucid...This is a book that can be commended very warmly."--The New York Times