Capital of the Mind

How Edinburgh Changed the World

By James Buchan

Format: Multiple Formats

By the end of 18th century Edinburgh had become the marvel of modern Europe, home to the finest minds of the day and their breathtaking innovations in architecture, politics, science, the arts, and economies. This book tells the story of the triumph of this town and the men whose vision brought it into being.

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Birlinn Limited

Birlinn publishes mostly non-fiction books, ranging from biography to history, military history and Scottish interest. Their imprints, Polygon Books, Arena Sport Books and John Donald Books, publish a wide variety of genres including culture, literary fiction, poetry and sports.

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In the early 18th century, Edinburgh was a filthy backwater town synonymous with poverty and disease. Yet by century's end, it had become the marvel of modern Europe, home to the finest minds of the day and their breathtaking innovations in architecture, politics, science, the arts, and economies - all of which continues to echo loudly today. Adam Smith penned "The Wealth of Nations". James Boswell produced "The Life of Samuel Johnson". Alongside them, pioneers such as David Hume, Robert Burns, James Hutton, and 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. James Buchan beautifully reconstructs the intimate geographic scale and boundless intellectual milieu of Enlightenment Edinburgh. With the scholarship of an 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.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Multiple Formats
Imprint Birlinn Limited
Publication Date 29 Aug 2007
SKU 9781841586397-grouped
Number of Pages 448

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Press Reviews

'Capital of the Mind creates a psychogeography as lovely as Edinburgh's own. A breathless chronicle of the fondness of genius for its own company'

'Does for 18th-centry Edinburgh...what Roy Poerter's Enlightenment: How Britain Created the Modern World did for Britain' 

'Buchan's confident and astringent study is based on an informed love of Scotland and its stories are told to excellent effect'

'As Buchan says in this marvellous book, "there is no city like Edinburgh in all the world"'

'A triumph of fact-based, imaginatively expressed writing'

'[An] elegant portrait of Edinburgh in the age of Enlightenment'

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