Absorbing ... In this extremely well-written biography, Curran vividly portrays Diderot as a brilliant man filled with contradictions and passions who acted as a central figure in the advancement of intellectual freedom.
... engrossing ... a narrative sustained with appealing clarity and energy ... Indeed, readers of this biography are likely to be impressed by the scope of Diderot’s thought and by his courage, as he risked persecution to ask and answer taboo questions, thereby making it easier, and safer, for us to do the same.
The Encyclopédie [Diderot's chief project] was not explicitly radical or anticlerical, but as Mr. Curran points out, it slyly knocked religion from its pedestal by treating entries on matters of faith on a parity with entries on glass-blowing or letterpress printing ... This publication history is elegantly untangled by Mr. Curran, whose clear style and interest in the psychology of it all transforms it into a lively narrative ... The Diderot who emerges from Mr. Curran’s [book] is...a person dedicated above all to fostering an adversarial culture. One is left mulling over Mr. Curran’s phrase 'the art of thinking freely.' The cultivation of such fearless open-mindedness was indeed an art, not a form of political evangelization, and whether or not you agree with anything Diderot ever said, you are bound to be exhilarated by his creativity.