RaveThe Spectator (UK)...the general reader can be forgiven for feeling a tad daunted. Now, however, help is at hand, in the form of The Enlightenment: The Pursuit of Happiness, 1680-1790 by Ritchie Robertson, a work that is at once readable, authoritative and wide-ranging ... The author is a professor of German literature and thought at Oxford University, but whatever the specific subject addressed, the quality of scholarship is uniformly high ... From the use of statistics to the novel to animal rights and vegetarianism, reaching across perhaps a dozen different nations, the book’s range is astonishing ... To the idea of reason, Robertson skilfully counterposes those of sensibility and sociability ... In a brilliant chapter, Robertson encompasses Adam Smith’s demonstration that even human commercial exchange rests on imagination ... He rightly highlights the centrality to European thought of Newton, Boyle, Locke and Hobbes ... the need for independent thought, conditioned always by a knowledge of history such as this, has rarely been more important than today.