'James Buchan has written a hugely readable and comprehensive review of this volatile period in the city's life. Fascinating anecdotes and arguments sparkle across its pages, and...CAPITAL OF THE MIND is an absolute joy to read.' (Irvine Welsh, Guardian )
'James Buchan tells the extraordinary story with a novelist's narrative zip and brilliant flashes of detail ... as Buchan says in this marvellous book, "there is no city like Edinburgh in all the world."' (Sunday Times )
'Vigorous and entertaining' (Sunday Telegraph )
'A work of prodigious research and clarity of thought' (Irish Examiner 20031227)
'Thought-provoking examination of the role played by Edinburgh in the creation of the Enlightenment' (Scottish Sunday Herald 20031221)
'With a novelist's flair for pace and a prodigious eye for detail ... Capital of the Mind brings 18th-century Edinburgh vividly to life. The narrative ... is fascinating' (The Field 20040301)
'A brilliant piece of work, by far the best biography of my hometown' (Irvine Welsh, Guardian 20040619)
'There have been many books about "The Athens of the North", but none as authoritative as this' (The Times 20040814)
'Edinburgh ... laid the mental foundations for the modern world' (Sunday Telegraph 20040808)
'Buchan vigorously advances the argument announced in his title, and he writes intellectual history like the novelist he is' (Independent 20040808)
'Buchan does a scholarly job of describing this transformation' (Halifax Daily News 20040808)
'He brings us the look and smell and feel of Scotland ... The book is a triumph of fact-based, imaginatively-expressed writing' (Magnus Magnusson, New Statesman 20040808)
'For such a learned history, Mr Buchan has a clear writing style, a light touch and a irreverent sense of humour. In the more gently paced chapters on such intellectuals as David Hume and Adam Smith, he combines deft broad strokes with intricate details, shading in apparently dry subjects with innumerable and delightful anecdotes that bring the old city to life.' (Economist 20040808)
'An entertaining intellectual history ... Pungently evoking the Old Town and the planning of the new, masterfully condensing the lives and works of such titans as David Hume and Adam Smith, coolly anatomising the bogus Gaelic epics of Ossian and the newfangled cult of sentiment, and watching half-amused, half-outraged, as Boswell and Johnson career through his pages, Buchan brilliantly tells a complex story' (Guardian 20040828)
James Buchan is both a leading novelist and a major historian and critic. He has won major literary prizes - including the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize - and his books have been translated into eleven foreign languages.
His most recent novel is 'A Good Place to Die'. His controversial philosophy of money, 'Frozen Desire', won the Duff Cooper Award in 1998. He divides his time between Scotland, the Middle East and a farm in Norfolk.