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This is a completely charming book: smart, literate, subtle, putting pressure in all the right places. Rosenfeld wants to show that surprisingly much of modern political history--the rise of democracy; its anxious and baleful critics; the turn against priestcraft, statecraft, and babbling intellectuals-- is distilled in invocations of common sense. She's calmly and confidently in control of disparate and illuminating material, from England to Amsterdam, Philadelphia to Paris, the seventeenth century to the twentieth. Even readers not persuaded of some of her central claims will enjoy feasting on the often hilarious primary sources she lays out.