'As an introduction to early modern thinking and the impact of past ideas on present lives, this book can find few equals and no superiors. Porter is a witty, humane writer with an extraordinary vocabulary and a sparkling sense of fun. Whether he is quoting from obscure medical texts or analysing scabrous diaries, dishing the dirt on long-dead bigwigs or evoking sympathy for human suffering, his grasp is masterly and his erudition appealing. I wish I could read it again for the first time: you can.' Times Educational Supplement, Book of the Week In this startlingly brilliant sequel to the prize-winning ENLIGHTENMENT Roy Porter completes his lifetime's work, offering a magical, enthusiastic and charming account of the writings of some of the most attractive figures ever to write English.