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Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon | [The Great Courses]

Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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:

  • France’s oppressed and hungry masses rise up against their government.
  • In Paris, crowds storm the Bastille looking for bread and weaponry.
  • Rumors, panic, and fear grip the nation as it faces an uncertain future.
  • The National Assembly adopts the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the first bold step toward the invention of democratic politics and a republican state.
  • A young Corsican named Napoleon Bonaparte stuns Europe with his military strategy and political boldness.

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Monte Johnston Clayton, NC 09-17-13
    Monte Johnston Clayton, NC 09-17-13 Member Since 2007

    ...master of none

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Such a great balance of the big picture and detail"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martin Lefebvre Canada 08-12-13
    Martin Lefebvre Canada 08-12-13 Listener Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mostly French Revolution"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    liam LAS VEGAS, NV, United States 10-28-13
    liam LAS VEGAS, NV, United States 10-28-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing events amazing presentation"
    Would you listen to Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon again? Why?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    When France became a republic


    Which character – as performed by Professor Suzanne M. Desan – was your favorite?

    N/A, this was not a storybook


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are on the fence about getting this. Get it!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alison United States 08-23-13
    Alison United States 08-23-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Stunning!"
    If you could sum up Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon in three words, what would they be?

    Memorable, entertaining tale


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon?

    Suzanne Desan picks her examples & words carefully. This is not presented in a dry manner, but is comprehensive in scope.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Far too long (at 48 lessons) but couldn't wait to listen to next chapters.


    Any additional comments?

    This is educational but it's pure fun too. Beautifully planned to keep you interested & informed.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saud United States 02-26-14
    Saud United States 02-26-14 Member Since 2007

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Feels like you're there"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    augustine Mc Farland, WI, United States 09-15-13
    augustine Mc Farland, WI, United States 09-15-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Perfect amount of information"

    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.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy NEW YORK, NY, United States 04-05-14
    Jeremy NEW YORK, NY, United States 04-05-14 Member Since 2010

    This is the kind of styles I like in my reviews: good pace, cerebral, well-documented, meaty, mind-bending.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Revolution vs. tradition"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Bozman, md, United States 03-26-14
    Daniel Bozman, md, United States 03-26-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Fascinating History Very Well Told"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Homewood, AL, United States 10-18-13
    Chris Homewood, AL, United States 10-18-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Excellent Presentation"
    What about Professor Suzanne M. Desan’s performance did you like?

    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike New Jersey 01-20-14
    Mike New Jersey 01-20-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Excellent Overview of French Rev. and Napoleon"
    Any additional comments?

    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!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 17 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • mr
    west sussex, United Kingdom
    2/8/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very good"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Iida
    7/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Entertaining and Informative"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon to be better than the print version?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon?

    I was particularly fond of the stories of 'little' individuals, especially those not often mentioned in the context of the topic.


    What does Professor Suzanne M. Desan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Enthusiasm, passion for history, sense of humour.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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