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Simon BlackburnWhether or not he was a spy, Descartes skulked in the shadows of Europe’s great events for a fairly short time. After following the armies and conducting secretive travels for some seven years, he settled down to the life of a savant in the United Provinces of the Netherlands. The rest of his story belongs not so much to political history as to the history of natural science, mathematics and philosophy. It has been told before, and Grayling does not seek to compete with such renowned scholars as Charles Adam or Stephen Gaukroger. But his strength lies in how he provides context, drawing the strange world from which modern science was emerging.
— The New York Times