Chosen as a BOOK OF THE YEAR in The Times, The Spectator, Prospect, Sunday Times, Economist, New Statesman, Telegraph, Financial Times, TLS, New York Times, and Washington Post.
‘This is ridiculous. No book about German philosophy has any right to be this fun. This witty, gossipy, sparkling history . . . fizzed with creative energy’ The Times, Book of the Year
Magnificent Rebels is – well – magnificent. This is how such books should be written, with clarity, passion and delight. A thrilling intellectual adventure’ JOHN BANVILLE, Book of the Year
‘History writing at its best’ The Spectator, Book of the Year
‘A thrilling page-turner, by turns comical & tragic… My book of the year so far’ TOM HOLLAND
In the 1790s an extraordinary group of friends changed the world. Disappointed by the French Revolution’s rapid collapse into tyranny, what they wanted was nothing less than a revolution of the mind. The rulers of Europe had ordered their peoples how to think and act for too long. Based in the small German town of Jena, through poetry, drama, philosophy and science, they transformed the way we think about ourselves and the world around us. They were the first Romantics.
Their way of understanding the world still frames our lives and being.We’re still empowered by their daring leap into the self. We still think with their minds, see with their imagination and feel with their emotions. We also still walk the same tightrope between meaningful self-fulfilment and destructive narcissism, between the rights of the individual and our role as a member of our community and our responsibilities towards future generations who will inhabit this planet. This extraordinary group of friends changed our world. It is impossible to imagine our lives, thoughts and understanding without the foundation of their ground-breaking ideas.