Davidson tells the whole, rich story of Voltaire's life (1694-1778) - his early imprisonment in the Bastille; exile in England and his mastery of English; an obsession with money, of which he made a huge amount; a scandalous love life; his infatuation with Frederick the Great; a long exile on the borders of Switzerland; his passion for watch-making; his human rights campaigns and his triumphant return to Paris to die there as celebrity extraordinaire. Throughout all of this Voltaire's life was always informed by two things: a belief in the essential value of toleration in the face of fanaticism; and in the right of every man to think and say what he liked. It is rare to have such a vivid portrait of a great man.
Ian Davidson worked for the Financial Times for many years (among other things as Paris correspondent and as chief foreign affairs columnist). His previous biography was Voltaire in Exile (2004)