48th out of 164 books — 39 voters
Origins of the French Revolution
This new edition of the acclaimed 1981 study of the origins of the French Revolution remains a provocative and up-to-date synthesis of the important work on this complex topic. Incorporating the wealth of research that has appeared over the last eight years, Doyle presents a detailed analysis of the ancien r gime and the struggle for power that followed its disappearance.
Paperback, 246 pages
Published October 6th 1988 by Oxford University Press
(first published 1980)
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The French Revolution is one of the most important events in recent western history, and also one of the most misunderstood. In particular, many people try to nail down what caused the Revolution, often assigning simplistic interpretations or affixing blame to certain groups or individuals. William Doyle's brief survey cuts through the myths and exposes the complicated systemic issues that led to the outbreak of revolution, crafting a great starting place for understanding the causes of this wor...more
Great book, for the novice and the well versed. Doyle begins with a review of 20th century historiography of the French Revolution, summarized in about 50 pages. Frankly, I think this is the most useful part of the book and certainly the most bang for your buck. He then goes on to give a narrative account of the revolution, with some chapters decidedly less analytic than others, but I suppose that's standard. Not a quick read, but not a long one either. I don't recommend it as a survey for someo...more
Oct 25, 2008 Jonathan rated it 3 of 5 stars · review of another edition
A very helpful survey. Doyle begins with an overview of the historiography (classic/revisionist/postrevisionist takes on the French Revolution). Then he synthesizes available information on various aspects of French politics and society in the years leading up to the Revolution. In the end, Doyle's account emphasizes contingency and coincidence. The Revolution appears as a sort of accident that surprised the revolutionaries as much as anyone else. The only problem in this book is that it ends at...more
Although not one of my favorites, I did like this book. My main criticism is in the beginning (the first chapter in particular). Doyle wastes too much space talking about previous historians thoughts on the basis for the revolution, but not thoroughly explaining their positions or shifts in position. Once you get past that, which is more of an introduction anyway, the book is quite good.
Succint and badass. A brief three-chapter introduction looks over the wackiness of historiographical traditions on the Rev', as I like to call it. The rest of this tight, savvy work lays out the different social components of the shifizzle and concurrent happenins. Good shit...good shit...
Doyle gives a good summary of the causes of the French Revolution. Excellent book if you're looking for a survey of the events of 1986-89, or if you're interested in some of the debates that have come up on the history of the Revolution from the 1940's to the 1980's.
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“...those who succeeded the Voltaires, the d'Alemberts, & the Diderots at the head of the movement when these giants died, & who inherited their social acclaim, had little new to say...These swarming hacks hoped, like the great heroes of the Enlightenment before them, to write their way to fame & fortune. They found fame & fortune already monopolized by second-rate socialites who did not even put pen to paper most of the time, & yet who had the power & prestige to censor & condemn their works out of hand.”More quotes…