A Message From the Publisher

James Thompson
Publisher, Commonwealth Book Publishers of Virginia

Before you go to our bookstore, let me tell you about Commonwealth Book Publishers of Virginia—where History, Philosophy, and Art meet. We publish books about bright ideas:  who created them; how they became influential; who they influenced; and what these individuals did with them.

We answer these questions by immersing ourselves in the History of Ideas.  This is where History, Philosophy, and Art truly meet. We get to know people who invented an idea. We find out what they looked like, where they lived, how they spent their time, who they associated with. They always seem to have found something wrong—something they could fix. We like to know how they intended to do this and whether they succeeded.

It turns out that most bright ideas have unintended consequences that render them ineffective or cause them to become positively detrimental as time passes.

To understand ideas in history it helps to remember that:

  • Bright ideas form in response to particular issues at particular times
  • They crystalize in a forward, interactive process
  • History is the expression of ideas in events
  • Events become interesting when they are guided by consequential ideas
  • The value of a consequential idea invariably diminishes over time
  • Individuals who crystalize them usually change their views as time passes
  • Historians change history by interpreting past events in terms of their own ideas
  • Bright ideas come and go

By telling stories in this framework, we show readers what their world has been in the past and what caused it to change. We believe that discovering these things is an interactive process and that the enterprise will be fruitful only if the discoverer becomes engaged. To draw readers into our stories—to help them see what was once there—we fill them with pictures of the people and places we find interesting.

When you go to our Bookstore, click on the covers and take a look inside.  


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