The Evolution of an Idea


The latest title in the Engelsberg Ideas series interrogates the concept of freedom in its various forms.

This book is not yet published, but will be available from June 2024.

ISBN: 9789189425934 Category:


How has the idea of liberty developed and evolved over the centuries? What does freedom mean for us today and what do we need to do in order to preserve the freedoms for which generations of men and women fought and even gave their lives?

Liberty is indispensable to flourishing societies the world over. Its story contains multitudes – humanity’s eternal struggle with fate, our ancestors’ long quest to establish freedom of thought and freedom of religion, the rise of democratic liberties in society at large and the modern fight against authoritarian politics and tyrants everywhere.

In this anthology of essays, leading academics, writers and historians explore what liberty has meant through the ages. They reflect on this great drama of freedom at work and why we so readily suffer to defend liberty when it comes under threat.

Additional information

Weight 300 g
Dimensions 17.5 x 24.5 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 11 June 2024
Number of pages 300
Format Hardback
Contributors Text by John Bew, Adrian Bradshaw, and Alexander McCall Smith
Dimensions 17.5 x 24.5 cm
Weight 300 g


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John Bew is Professor of History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King's College London. From 2019, he served as foreign policy adviser to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In 2015, he was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize for Politics and International Relations. His books include Realpolitik: A History and Citizen Clem: A Biography of Attlee.

Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE DL has degrees in Agriculture, Defence Studies and International Relations. He has been a Visiting Defence Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford and is Senior Associate Fellow at RUSI and Visiting Professor at King's College London. He joined the 14th/20th King's Hussars in 1980 and has served in armour, aviation and special forces. He completed his Regular service as Britain's most senior officer in NATO as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe in 2014-17.

Alexander McCall Smith is the author of over 100 books. He was formerly Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh before becoming a full-time writer. He has recently completed volume 24 in his series of novels set in Botswana, The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Last year saw the publication of a collection of poetry, In a Time of Distance. He is a librettist for composers of operas and song cycles.