Religion in the Age of Enlightenment


Book Review, David Hume, Historians, Enlightenment


Judging a book by its cover would give especially misleading results in this case. From its title, readers might expect a general introduction to Hume's scholarly work. Instead, they will get an account mainly of Hume the historian. The volume was originally commissioned as part of "a series of short books by historians writing about their favourite historians" (5). First published by Avon (in Britain) and St. Martin's (in the United States), it is now reprinted by Penguin and Yale. The rerelease may have a lot to do with the apparent popularity (judging by the many reviews, at least) of Phillipson's volume on Adam Smith, released by the same two publishers in 2010. The new edition is very much like the old. The most noticeable change is the addition of a few pages in the final chapter about why Hume eventually decided not to add to his History of England a volume on the reigns of William III and Anne.