• The Enlightenment That Failed

  • Ideas, Revolution, and Democratic Defeat, 1748-1830
  • By: Jonathan I. Israel
  • Narrated by: James Cameron Stewart
  • Length: 60 hrs and 58 mins
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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The Enlightenment That Failed

By: Jonathan I. Israel
Narrated by: James Cameron Stewart
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Publisher's Summary

The Enlightenment That Failed explores the growing rift between those Enlightenment trends and initiatives that appealed exclusively to elites and those aspiring to enlighten all of society by raising mankind's awareness, freedoms, and educational level generally. Jonathan I. Israel explains why the democratic and radical secularizing tendency of the Western Enlightenment, after gaining some notable successes during the revolutionary era (1775-1820) in numerous countries, especially in Europe, North America, and Spanish America, ultimately failed. He argues that a populist, Robespierriste tendency, sharply at odds with democratic values and freedom of expression, gained an ideological advantage in France, and that the negative reaction this generally provoked caused a more general anti-Enlightenment reaction, a surging anti-intellectualism combined with forms of religious revival that largely undermined the longings of the deprived, underprivileged, and disadvantaged, and ended by helping, albeit often unwittingly, conservative anti-Enlightenment ideologies to dominate the scene.

©2019 Jonathan I. Israel (P)2021 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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Enlightened radical

This book is the best audiobook I have ever listened to. I am a history buff and this book plays on the philosophical/ideological and historical slant. I am definitely of the positive critique and Israel won me over with his pounding thesis of radical enlightenment - democratising republicanism coupled with rejection of religious authority or dogmatism.

The thing that made this such a great audiobook however was the narrator, James Cameron Stewart. He was perfect for this book. It was his cadence through sentences. The emphasis or stress he put on words with a slight pause. It was just so well delivered. The pronunciation was impeccable through many different languages - French mainly, but also German, Danish, Swedish, Dutch & Spanish.

I feel after finishing this exhaustive audiobook that I got a real education in the 18th century philosophical struggles of Europe. Struggles between monarchy and republics, struggles between the supremacy of church and atheism. It seems like a very challenging age where individuals were starting to think for themselves and fight the status quo.

What I would truly wish is that Jonathan Israel would allow the other three preceding books in this series to be recorded in audio. If this was excellent, I can’t imagine how good Democratic Enlightenment, Enlightenment Contested, or Radical Enlightenment would be. And of course please allow James Cameron Stewart to narrate these as well. He was unbelievable.

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Long but Good Tour

…. thru the enlightenment starting from Spinoza, lingering (of course) on the French Revolution, and getting to Marx. He has a thesis about the strands of the enlightenment that doesn’t get too much in the way of the broad and informative sweep of the history. The lesson for our times is that democracy has a tough competitor in autocratic populism.