About the Book

A Wicked Company

A Wicked Company

The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment
May 2012
Trade Paperback · 384 Pages
$18.00 U.S. · €12.99 E.U.
ISBN 9780465028658
Basic Books


Recommended for These Courses


A Wicked Company tells the remarkable story of Baron Thierry Holbach's Parisian salon, an epicenter of freethinking that brought together the greatest minds of the 18th century. Over wine-soaked dinner parties, the finest intellectuals of the Western world'figures such as Denis Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, Adam Smith, Horace Walpole, and Benjamin Franklin'matched wits and scandalized one another with their own ever-more-provocative ideas. Writers of genius all, full of wit and courage (but also personal contradictions, doubts, conflicts of conscience, and their fair share of open arguments and love affairs), this group of friends embodied an astonishing radicalism in European thought, so uncompromising and bold that its bracing, liberating, humanist vision has still not been fully realized. As acclaimed historian Philipp Blom shows, these thinkers? analysis of our culture remains as valid as it was then, and has lost little of its potential to shock'or to force us to confront with new eyes debates about our society and its future.

About the Author

Philipp Blom was born in Hamburg and trained as a historian in Vienna and Oxford. He is the author of The Vertigo Years, Enlightening the World, and To Have And To Hold. He frequently contributes articles to the Financial Times, the Independent, and the Guardian among others. A host of cultural programming on Austrian National Radio, he lives in Vienna.