Jacob's Reviews > The Pursuit of Glory: The Five Revolutions that Made Modern Europe: 1648-1815

The Pursuit of Glory by Timothy C.W. Blanning
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Mar 20, 14

bookshelves: 2010-2011, history, unfinished
Recommended to Jacob by: Kelly

Fascinating. Incredibly fascinating. But also demanding--and I was too distracted by Sherlock Holmes to give this the attention it deserved. Setting it aside for now; I'll try again later.
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Reading Progress

07/10/2011 page 0
0.0% "I always have trouble reading history because I can never settle on a specific date without wondering what came before, but the first line of Blanning's introduction changed that: "Every history of Europe has to start at some arbitrary date, unless of course an attempt is being made to cover everything since the emergence of Homo sapiens." Oh, good. Forget Homo sapiens--I was prepared to go back to the Big Bang."
07/10/2011 page 7
1.0% "On road maintenance and travel times: "In 1786 the duc de Croy left Calais at 5:30 in the morning and reached Paris in time for a late supper at 8 p.m., having traveled 170 miles (280 km) at an average speed of almost 12 mph (20 kph)." This compared to travel times of a week (and often more) in the previous century."
07/12/2011 page 30
4.0% "Canals and waterways made easier travel (and better transport) than most roads in the 17th and 18th centuries, but, in France, "the need to struggle with the Loire's capricious currents and other natural obstacles meant that shipments from Nantes to Paris could take six to eight months to cover a distance of less than 250 miles (400 km).""
07/15/2011 page 40
5.0% "Blanning devotes just six pages to the postal services available in Europe and Great Britain at the time. Am I the only person who wants to read a complete history of the Thurn and Taxis family?"
07/15/2011 page 50
7.0% "Don't feel bad, Dr. Condom. There are worse ways to be remembered."
07/17/2011 page 64
9.0% "Discussion of mortality rates in regards to war, famine, and plague. I had hoped for an overview of a Thirty Years War, at least in a "Previously, on the last episode" kind of recap, but no such luck. Even more reason to read C. V. Wedgwood's history."
07/17/2011 page 78
11.0% "On the treatment of women: "For the overwhelming majority of Europeans, of course, it was the Bible which provided the most compelling justification for discrimination. From the rich store to be found in that misogynistic compendium..." PREACH IT, PROFESSOR BLANNING." 1 comment
07/17/2011 page 84
11.0% ""How happy were good English Faces/ Til Mounsieur [sic] from France/ Taught Pego a dance/ To the tune of old Sodom's Embraces// But now we are quite out of Fashion:/ Poor Whores may be Nuns/ Since Men turn their Guns/ And vent on each other their passion" ("The Women's Complaint to Venus", 1698, regarding homosexuality)" 3 comments
07/21/2011 page 99
13.0% ""Commenting on the ubiquity of the Dutch fleet in 1667, Sir William Batten, Surveyor of the Royal Navy, exclaimed to Samuel Pepys: 'By God! I think the Devil shits Dutchmen!'"
07/27/2011 page 119
16.0% "Trade guilds in the 18th century were very selective of members, and "contamination by contact" with undesirables was cause for exclusion: "In 1725 in Brandenburg, for example, a cloth-maker was ejected from his guild when it came to light that his wife's grandmother was allegedly descended from a shepherd. A cobbler spotted drinking with the local hangman suffered the same fate.""
07/31/2011 page 142
19.0% "Thought this would be a quick read, but I'm going much slower than I'd like. Guh. Still, it's endlessly fascinating, so I'm going to take this as a sign that I should buy the book and keep reading at my own pace."
08/05/2011 page 148
20.0% "Just bought my own copy. Now I can read at an even slower pace!"
08/20/2011 page 157
21.0% "Uh-oh. Staaaaaaaaaalled." 1 comment
08/23/2011 page 191
26.0% "After a month and a half, I've finally finished...Part 1. I guess those chapters on trade and manufacturing and agriculture just didn't grab my attention..." 4 comments
09/30/2011 page 225
31.0% "7 pages in a month! Yeah, I think it's time to stop pretending." 4 comments
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Comments (showing 1-16)




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message 16: by Kelly (new)

Kelly So, are you enjoying it? I probably should've warned you the opening is a bit dry and not really.. focused on revolution. But it is a pretty sweeping picture of the time period.


message 15: by Jacob (new) - added it

Jacob Enjoying it a lot--and honestly, I love the opening. It's nice to get an overview of the period, even if it's a bit -too- sweeping. A little more detail would be nice. I would actually be interested in a more detailed history of European roads or waterways or the postal system. I'll have to do some research. But I'll stick with this for now. Broad, sweeping introductions first, details later.


message 14: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I would actually be interested in a more detailed history of European roads or waterways or the postal system.

If this is true, you are the person for this book. I'm so glad! And I honestly think that you are so right to be interested. I think we can't quite comprehend how much time everything took anymore, and how much that would have affected nearly everything that happened.


message 13: by Jacob (new) - added it

Jacob Kelly wrote: "I think we can't quite comprehend how much time everything took anymore, and how much that would have affected nearly everything that happened. "

I posted this on a status update, and I think it sums everything up nicely:

"In 1786 the duc de Croy left Calais at 5:30 in the morning and reached Paris in time for a late supper at 8 p.m., having traveled 170 miles (280 km) at an average speed of almost 12 mph (20 kph)."

And that was considered fast.


message 12: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I think my favorite word in that quote is the word "almost," like that is a wowing number. :) I look forward to your next status updates!


message 11: by Jacob (new) - added it

Jacob I should probably slow down with those. If I keep pointing out every interesting tidbit that pops up, I'll end up with several hundred updates. Imagine trying to find (or, in my case, organize) a review in that mess.

Hmm. I think I may have changed my mind about that. Hundreds of notes it is, then!


message 10: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Hmm. I think I may have changed my mind about that. Hundreds of notes it is, then!

Are you a historian? If not, you should be. You've got the right attitude for it. :) I for one love footnotes! My brain is footnotes! Bring on more footnotes/updates I say!


message 9: by Jacob (new) - added it

Jacob Hmm. I should be. Maybe -I- could write a complete history of the Thurn & Taxis postal service.


message 8: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Hey, maybe you could get a research budget to follow around the present family at glamorous parties and ask them questions. ;)


message 7: by Jacob (last edited Jul 16, 2011 08:47PM) (new) - added it

Jacob Kelly wrote: "Hey, maybe you could get a research budget to follow around the present family at glamorous parties and ask them questions. ;)"

Albert II, the current Prince of Thurn and Taxis, is rather good looking, so I would have no problem with that.


message 6: by Kelly (new)

Kelly He is, in kind of a English pro soccer player sort of way. If you like that kind of thing- which I do. Good taste! :)


message 5: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I'm so sorry to hear this is proving dull for you. :( Again, I probably should have warned you about how much of this is about the time period and context. I love books that paint a picture, sometimes I forget that a lot of is a slog to do. Argh.


message 4: by Jacob (new) - added it

Jacob Actually, it's getting interesting again. I just had some trouble getting through the chapters on trade and agriculture and stuff, and then I got distracted by other books, so trying to get back to this one was a bit of a chore. But I'm back on track now.


message 3: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Yeah, potatoes and roads can't really stack up against power, religion and wars, the other parts. :) It felt like to me he really wanted to give us a picture of how unlikely revolutions were, how hard it would have been for this change to happen, by giving all the information on how long it took to get from Calais to Paris, what communications were like, etc. Probably could have left some of his notes out though.

I hope you like the rest better!


message 2: by Jacob (new) - added it

Jacob Kelly wrote: "Yeah, potatoes and roads can't really stack up against power, religion and wars, the other parts. :)"

Well, the roads can. I liked the bits about the roads. The potatoes? Not so much.


message 1: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Haha. Well, I'll look forward to your updates about the rest of the book!


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