The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau burst unexpectedly onto the eighteenth-century literary scene as a provocateur whose works electrified readers. An autodidact who had not written anything of significance by age thirty, Rousseau seemed an unlikely candidate to become one of the most influential thinkers in history. Yet the power of his ideas is felt to this day in our political and social lives.In a masterly and definitive biography, Leo Damrosch traces the extraordinary life of Rousseau with novelistic verve. He presents Rousseau's books -- The Social Contract, one of the greatest works on political theory; Emile, a groundbreaking treatise on education; and the Confessions, which created the genre of introspective autobiography -- as works uncannily alive and provocative even today. Jean-Jacques Rousseau offers a vivid portrait of the visionary’s tumultuous life.