George Washington's False Teeth: An Unconventional Guide to the Eighteenth Century

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9780393337471: George Washington's False Teeth: An Unconventional Guide to the Eighteenth Century
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A master historian's excavations into the past unearth a world that is unexpected and compelling.

George Washington was inaugurated as president in 1789 with one tooth in his mouth, a lower left bicuspid. The Father of His Country had sets of false teeth that were made of everything but wood, from elephant ivory and walrus tusk to the teeth of a fellow human. With characteristic learning and bracing insight, Robert Darnton shows us that the Enlightenment had false teeth alsothat it was not the Father of Our Modern World, responsible for all its advances and transgressions. In restoring the Enlightenment to human scale, Darnton locates its real aims, ambitions, and significance. So too with the French Revolution, another icon of the eighteenth century, approached here through the gossip, songs, and broadsides that formed the political nervous system of Paris in the Old Regime. Figures we think we knowVoltaire, Jefferson, Rousseau, Condorcet, even historians themselvesemerge afresh in Darnton's hands, their vitality, if not their teeth, intact. 17 b/w illustrations.

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About the Author:

Robert Darnton is the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and the director of the University Library at Harvard University. His honors include a MacArthur Prize, the National Humanities Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and election to the French Legion of Honor. He is the author of The Great Cat Massacre and The Forbidden Bestsellers of Pre-Revolutionary France, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.

From Publishers Weekly:

As Princeton history professor Darnton notes in his introduction, "everything about the eighteenth century is strange, once you examine it in detail." His pleasingly eccentric book of essays offers many surprising supporting examples. But this isn't a mere laundry list of oddities; Darnton is thoughtful and engaging in his historical analysis of the Enlightenment, and his narrative, in which he occasionally appears in the musing, professorial first person, will absorb the educated lay reader. In "The News in Paris," Darnton considers how news was disseminated in the city in 1750. It was not, he says, through newspapers, "because papers with news in them-news as we understand it today, about public affairs and prominent persons-did not exist. The government did not allow them." He traces the complicated methods by which court gossip and political machinations spread throughout the Parisian populace, concluding that 21st-century Washington resembles 18th-century Paris in its focus on "political folklore" and the private lives of leaders instead of the platforms they espouse. In "The Great Divide," Darnton records Rousseau's early picaresque adventures and then shows how the great philosopher (and "first anthropologist") came to regard civilization as a "process of corruption," and later to champion a patriotic civil religion. Throughout, Darnton uses the 18th century to provide "historical perspective to current questions"-about, for example, the shifting of European identity and the Internet's influence on information sharing-and openly ruminates about the problems of being a historian. This is a well-researched and sharply intelligent book, and Darnton is a knowledgeable and delightful guide to the time period. 17 b&w illustrations
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Book Description W. W. Norton & Company. Paperback. Condition: New. 224 pages. Dimensions: 8.4in. x 5.5in. x 0.7in.A master historians excavations into the past unearth a world that is unexpected and compelling. George Washington was inaugurated as president in 1789 with one tooth in his mouth, a lower left bicuspid. The Father of His Country had sets of false teeth that were made of everything but wood, from elephant ivory and walrus tusk to the teeth of a fellow human. With characteristic learning and bracing insight, Robert Darnton shows us that the Enlightenment had false teeth alsothat it was not the Father of Our Modern World, responsible for all its advances and transgressions. In restoring the Enlightenment to human scale, Darnton locates its real aims, ambitions, and significance. So too with the French Revolution, another icon of the eighteenth century, approached here through the gossip, songs, and broadsides that formed the political nervous system of Paris in the Old Regime. Figures we think we knowVoltaire, Jefferson, Rousseau, Condorcet, even historians themselvesemerge afresh in Darntons hands, their vitality, if not their teeth, intact. 17 bw illustrations. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9780393337471

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