The 25 years between the onset of the French Revolution in 1789 and the Bourbon Restoration after Napoleon in 1814 is an astonishing period in world history. This era shook the foundations of the old world and marked a permanent shift for politics, religion, and society - not just for France, but for all of Europe. An account of the events alone reads like something out of a thrilling novel:
Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon is your opportunity to learn the full story of this captivating period. Taught by Dr. Suzanne M. Desan, these 48 exciting lectures give you a broad and comprehensive survey of one of the most important eras in modern history.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2013 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2013 The Great Courses
...master of none
This was a marvelous course. Professor Desan has clearly mastered her subject and so her organization and presentation of the material was nothing short of brilliant. She provides an overview of the forces at work during this historical period and illustrates them with wonderful particulars - songs, quotes, diary entries, letters, etc. She gives you a sense of what it felt like to be alive during each of the stages of the Revolution.
I recommend this with no reservations.
Whilst the course is about the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon, it's primary focus is on the French Revolution. That being said, whilst I'm a fan of Napoleon, this is a bit more hostile towards Napoleon than Napoleon podcast by J David Markham and Cameron Reilly, it's more friendly towards the Revolutionaries.
Overall, this is a great overview of the French Revolution.
Yes, the narrative was well told. You really get an understanding of what was happening, what the atmosphere must have been like. Professor Desan is great to listen to and does not bore even after many hours.
When France became a republic
N/A, this was not a storybook
No. Throughout the course, one becomes immersed and grows attachments to certain characters and certain sides. I wouldn't want that to all be over so quickly.
If you are on the fence about getting this. Get it!
Memorable, entertaining tale
Suzanne Desan picks her examples & words carefully. This is not presented in a dry manner, but is comprehensive in scope.
Far too long (at 48 lessons) but couldn't wait to listen to next chapters.
This is educational but it's pure fun too. Beautifully planned to keep you interested & informed.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
This course combines big historic events and trends during the era of the French Revolution and through Napoleon's reign with the everyday lives of the people who lived during that time. We need more history courses like this.
Professor Desan has written a narrative that details enough information to give the listener the insights needed to make sense of the French Revolution, the Terror, the Hundred Days and finally the carving up of Europe and the Americas that reveal the reasons that eventually lead to the modern era and its wars.
The performance is dry. Imagine your favorite professor at the lectern going on about the love of her life. She has real enthusiasm but lacks the inflections of a professional reader.
If you are a person with a curiosity about history, you should definitely get this course.
This is the kind of styles I like in my reviews: good pace, cerebral, well-documented, meaty, mind-bending.
The French Revolution is this two-headed historical anomaly. On the one hand, a brutal repression (think: off with your head) followed by the most devastating wars until the 20th century. On the other hand, it is the first spread of democratic ideals and human rights in continental Europe. The point is not to judge but to try explain the commonality between those two, very different, interpretations and, perhaps, draw more philosophical lessons on the price paid for liberties we enjoy idea.
The book delivers a set of answers to this question and it is of course, nearly impossible to summarize those answers in a few sentences or without the historical context. Yet, I'd like to try to phrase the most contemporary insight that comes out of it. Human progress, as it seems, appears to be driven between the forces of tradition and order (conservatism) vs. the forces of idealism and change (liberalism). Where tradition is based on concrete practices, inherited from parents and ancestors, idealism posits fresh beliefs and ideas. Where order emphasizes social peace, change values the destruction of whatever came before.
Perhaps this one-time event in history is teaching us the value of moderation, of a middle-way. That even idealistic improvements to human conditions, where applied brutally with no respect for existing institutions and context, are portent of ill consequences. The end does not justify the means. It also tells us that unrestricted reverence for a set of traditions without any consideration of their social consequences is a dangerous route. In summary, it tells us about the value of slowly evolving, adaptative institutions.
Professor Desan does a tremendous job explaining what led to the revolution, how it wen awry, and the consequences. An engrossing look at one of the most fascinating periods in history.
Professor Desan's enthusiasm really brought this topic to life. She did an excellent job explaining what was going on in ancien regime France that brought about such a profound event and the revolution's impact on France and Europe. In fact, I have a much better understanding of why the French Revolution is still so important to the French, perhaps even more so than our own. Finally, her lectures on Napoleon were balanced and nuanced. Napoleon is treacherous territory for any historian, but she traversed it with skill and aplomb.
I highly recommend this book (or should I say, lecture series) for anyone interested in this topic. It offers a very thorough overview of the French Revolution from its inspirations and beginnings to the fall of Napoleon and Waterloo and subsequent historical events and trends. It also highlights other important players in the French Revolution beside just the French nation, including the process of the creation of the modern state of Haiti as well as important countries that played a role in the French Revolution or were greatly affected by it. I have listened to a number of Great Courses, and this is definitely one of the better ones I have listened to. The lecturer makes the series interesting to listen to but also does not sacrifice on content. It is also a longer series than normal, so it is well worth a credit. If you are interested in the topic and in history in general, you won't be disappointed!
Really very good, focuses on the political and social side more than Napoleon, though he still does feature heavily. I will certainly be getting more books from The Great Courses.
"Entertaining and Informative"
Lectures always work best in their original format. However, I feel that the lack of visual images did not bother me at all - the descriptions were vivid and clear.
I was particularly fond of the stories of 'little' individuals, especially those not often mentioned in the context of the topic.
Enthusiasm, passion for history, sense of humour.
I was left hungry for more. Unfortunately, another Great Courses lecture series I tried just did not compare to this one. I wish Professor Desan would expand on another topic in a similar way.
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