This is an excellent account of the life and thought of Rousseau. It shows how this master of self- dramatization revolutionized the European world of thought. The first great Romantic the obsessive searcher and promoter of himself was one of the major thinkers leading to the French and then American Revolutions. Orphaned from his mother as a small child he made his way from his native Geneva to the then center of civilization'in Paris. On the way he promoted ideas, ' the pristine state of nature' ' the corruption brought to mankind by civilization'( Man is born free and is everywhere in chains) ' the centrality of subjective feeling in understanding the world' ' the need for social equality in the education of women' 'the social contract' that changed European mankind's way of thinking about itself. Strathern tells the story of Rousseau's not particularly noble life ( he and his former washerwoman, later wife's five children were put out to foundling homes at infants) including the story of his unusual sexual journey with a great deal of humor and wisdom. This is a good introduction to one of those truly rare people, one who actually did help change the course of history.