The Chinese say that after you a read a book it gets thinner. But if you read that book again it gets thicker and thicker. Anchor's "The Enlightenment Tradition" is definitely this way. It's an intellectual history of the Enlightenment, deeply researched and superbly written. It expands after you set it down and the wheels in your head have unaccountably been set into motion. It invites multiple readings. He explains where many important ideas come from, many ideas we still hold. I especially like how he highlights the importance of Locke (Was there an English Enlightenment?) as a forerunner of the French Enlightenment. Locke's idea of the "blank slate" has had profound implications, especially for education. He goes back to Descartes and Pascal and explains their importance as the conflict between Nature and Custom played out. He makes fascinating comparisons between Kant and de Sade. Best of all, he explains why David Hume's ideas about causation have had such a seismic effect on science and traditional morality. He covers Hobbes, Rousseau, and Voltaire too, not to mention Prevost, all done in prose that will cause you uncontrollable excitement. It is a deft study of important ideas.