Hosking’s book was widely anticipated. I had hoped that it would be a worthy successor to Adam Seligman’s The Problem of Trust.(1) However, it is largely a rambling discourse on concepts that are often barely connected to trust. There is no clear idea of what varieties of trust are. Many of Hosking’s claims are at variance with the evidence we have on trust.
Karen Baston’s book is more than a revision of her Ph.D. It moves significantly beyond her thesis to open up fascinating new perspectives on the neglected subject of the place of the Scottish legal profession in Scottish public culture during the European Enlightenment of the 18th century.
This volume arrives with high praise. The book ‘[d]eserves to become another classic’, opines Peter Burke at the top of the front cover. It ‘[c]ompletely overhauls our view’, observes Ronald Hutton somewhat further down. The work itself is not shy of ambition either. Both the title—The Decline of Magic—and the subtitle—Britain in the Enlightenment—promise sweeping panoramas.