Chadwick, Owen The Secularization of the European Mind in the 19th Century Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975
Do not be put off by this book’s ponderous title. This is one of the most remarkable books on the staggering shift that took place during the Enlightenment. Chadwick charts with unparalleled skill the declining hold of the church and its doctrine on European society, resulting in a seismic shift in Western life and thought.

Gay, Peter The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism New York: Norton, 1966/1977
This National Book Award winning volume features a master historian at work in the area of his life study. Gay sees the Enlightenment as a cohesive and conscious whole, and importantly charts how it truly did give rise to modern paganism.

Himmelfarb, Gertrude The Roads to Modernity New York: Vintage Books, 2004

Himmelfarb, a leading neoconservative historian of ideas (One Nation, Two Cultures, etc.), takes on the ambitious project of reclaiming the Enlightenment from what she sees as delusionary French thinkers and restoring it to the (apparently) virtuous moderation of the English.

May, Henry F The Enlightenment in America New York: Oxford, 1976
Most works on the Enlightenment focus on the continent and, specifically, the French philosophes. May charts how the ideas of the European Enlightenment – men like Voltaire, Locke, Hume and Rousseau – came to the United States and profoundly shaped the country during the Revolutionary age. Treating the Enlightenment as a “religion,” he explores how the clash between Protestant Christianity and the Enlightenment shaped the ensuing century. This is a very good, and very important, book.

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