Frederick Copleston's original nine-volume A History of Philosophy began as an attempt to provide Catholic seminary students, whom Copleston believed were being woefully undersold in philosophy, a comprehensive but accessible guide to the ideas and individuals that have shaped philosophy. His work went on to be regarded by many a single best history of philosophy ever written in English.
Coplsteon's work sought provides a detailed, and by consensus fair, treatment of the major philosophers and their ideas from the Pre-Socratics all the way up to Levi-Strauss. He skillfully avoids simplistic caricatures and his narrative sparkles with incident and intellectual excitement giving each philosopher a full hearing with erudition, attention to style, while illuminating each figure has to those who came before and to those who came after.
Nevertheless Copleston, who is well known for his public debates and resounding defenses for the existence of God, never hides his own perspectives--but he also does not use it to truncate or distort others' views. Thus, Copleston's work is remarkably well-rounded, complete, and scholarly. Though originally intended for students, Copleston's work is a staple work for any library; especially those who wish to learn about and engage philosophical questions in an informed manner.
About Volume VIII
In A History of Philosophy, Volume VIII: Modern Philosophy-Empiricism, Idealism, and Pragmatism in Britain and America shows that despite some appearances, Idealism was not limited to the continent. In this volume, Copleston shows us the Enlightenment came full circle in the Positivism of John Stuart Mill, and how it became further expressed in British Idealism through thinkers such as Bradley and Bosanquet and how Americans such as Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin responded to it. He then follows the pragmatist (pragmatism) movement noting thinkers such as C.S. Peirce, William James, and the Experimentalism of John Dewey. Then, of course, there was the revolt against idealism led by figures such as G.E. Moore and the ubiquitous Bertrand Russell, and lastly John Henry Newman.