George Washington's False Teeth by Robert Darnton
An Unconventional Guide to the Eighteenth Century

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George Washington was inaugurated as president in 1789 with one tooth in his mouth, a lower left bicuspid. The "Father of His Country" had sets of false teeth that were made of everything but wood, from elephant ivory and walrus tusk to the teeth of a fellow human. Darnton aargues that the Enlightenment had false teeth also - that it was not the "Father of the Modern World", responsible for all its advances and transgressions. In restoring the Enlightenment to a human scale, Darnton locates its real aims, ambitions and significance. So too with the French Revolution, another icon of the 18th century, approached here through the gossip, songs and broadsides that formed the political nervous system of Paris during the ancien regime. Figures that we think we know - Voltaire, Jefferson, Rousseau, Condorcet, even historians themselves emerge afresh in Darnton's hands, their vitality, if not their teeth intact.

About Robert Darnton

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Robert Darnton is the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of European History at Princeton University. His many books include The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Published May 1, 2003 by W. W. Norton & Company. 192 pages
Genres: History, Travel. Non-fiction

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Making them human is one result of Darnton’s binding together all the oddments he does, from revolutionaries who may have been police spies to George Washington’s inability to gnash his teeth to the strange twists that led Rousseau to “the contradiction of the social system.” Sharp perspectives, ...

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Publishers Weekly

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As Princeton history professor Darnton notes in his introduction,""everything about the eighteenth century is strange, once you examine it in detail."" His pleasingly eccentric book of essays offers many surprising supporting examples.

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