Smitten, “The Life of William Robertson”

This month, Edinburgh University Press released The Life of William Robertson: Minister, Historian, and Principal by Jeffrey R. Smitten (Utah State University). The publisher’s description follows:

life-of-william-robertsonA prominent figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, William Robertson differed from his contemporaries, such as Voltaire, Hume and Gibbon, because he used the critical tools of the Enlightenment to strengthen religion, not to attack it. As an historian, he helped shape 18th-century historiography. As a minister of the Church of Scotland, he sought to make the church fit for a polite age. And, as principal of the University of Edinburgh, he presided over a flourishing of intellectual inquiry in the midst of the Enlightenment. But despite his European fame, he was a controversial figure. Drawing extensively on his unpublished correspondence, Jeffrey Smitten captures both the man and his work in his own words. By foregrounding Robertson’s religious outlook, Smitten gives us a more contextualised and nuanced interpretation of Robertson’s motives, intentions and beliefs than we have had before.

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