The French Revolution: 1770-1814 (History of France #4)
This volume, comprising Part I of the authors classic work Revolutionary France 1770-1880, offers a vivid narrative and radical reinterpretation of the years surrounding the momentous events of 1789 and their aftermath. During this period there were not one, but two revolutions: by intent the first was egalitarian, the second- Bonapartes authoritarian. The tension between...more
Paperback, 332 pages
Published December 23rd 1996 by Wiley-Blackwell
(first published February 18th 1987)
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Furet is known as the Chuck Norris of French Revolution historiography. He could punch you through the torso and out the other side before you could say "Thermidor!" If you neglect to read at least a significant portion of his contributions to the field, you can't be a historian. If you "skim" Furet, you get hung up by barbs through your nipples. I can't stress enough how important Furet is.
Furet represents a grand synthesis. There is dash of Tocqueville in his examination of a Revolution both caught in the old patterns and the new. There is Marxism in his examination of class and a view of the Revolution as having class like phases. There is even Taine and Burke in his view that the Revolution was practically doomed to violence. Most of all, there is Macauley and Michelet, in an interpretation that the Revolution was ultimately for the good of mankind.
Furet is a bit of a jerk -- it even comes through in print! -- and he assumes too much of the reader at times, such that the book often reads like an inside joke that only the author is in on; but this is a solid, deep read. Headache-inducing for those with bad lighting or a minimal interest in the French Revolution.