On Tuesday afternoon Princeton University Press had the honour of sponsoring a celebration of Emma Rothschild’s new book, THE INNER LIFE OF EMPIRES, at the University of Edinburgh, at the generous invitation of the Rt Hon Gordon Brown, MP. Lauded in the Wall Street Journal, The Spectator, and the Economist, Prof Rothschild’s book describes the complex world of empire, economy and enlightenment in the 18th century by telling the story of the extraordinary Johnstone family – 11 siblings who were born in Scotland and became abolitionists, speculators, slave owners, government officials and politicians and whose careers spanned the globe. Speaking about the origins of the book, Professor Rothschild described how a question from Gordon Brown about a parliamentary election in Adam Smith’s home town of Kirkcaldy led to the chance discovery of the letter book of John Johnstone and the world of his family. Dr Brown praised Rothschild’s pioneering research in economic history and the thought of Adam Smith, describing how the globalized world of the 18th century Johnstones which stretched from Grenada to India, has much to teach us about the current crisis of globalization.
Other speakers at the event included Nicholas Phillippson, biographer of Adam Smith and David Hume, and Sir Raymond Johnstone, descendant of John, who charmingly described his ancestors as “Borders Reivers.”
THE INNER LIFE OF EMPIRES is available in hardcover and in electronic form from Princeton University Press.