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Author Russell Shorto in Conversation with Gary Rosen

The Harvard Club, New York City | March 21, 2009

On a brutal winter day in 1650, the Frenchman René Descartes, the most influential and controversial thinker of his time, was buried in Stockholm after a cold, lonely death far from home. Sixteen years later, the French Ambassador Hugues de Terlon secretly unearthed the body and transported it home. Why would this devoutly Catholic official care so much about a philosopher who was hounded from country to country on charges of atheism? And why would Descartes' bones take such a strange path over the next 350 years?

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