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Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Lecture

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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2013 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2013 The Great Courses

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  •  
    Scott Santa Clara, CA, United States 01-16-14
    Scott Santa Clara, CA, United States 01-16-14 Member Since 2011

    No B.S. reviews. I'll never soft-pedal bad writing or inept narration.

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    "Very educational"

    A most interesting and educational audiobook. I'm glad I bought it, and glad I listened to it.
    Three negatives, however. One, professor Desan's reading is a bit stressed, and it gets wearing by the end of the lecture series. Two, the lectures are not in strict chronological order, so it's frequently difficult to tell what year is being discussed. To be fair, however, the lectures are organized by topic, which is why this is true, but she rarely re-references the year, so it's often difficult to figure out what year it is. Three, the lectures come across as somehow impersonal, so although there are frequent discussions about people's attitudes and difficulties, I didn't come away with a vibrant visualization of these.
    At the end of the day, this is a good overview of a complex and important part of world history, and Professor Desan's wrap-up and discussion of the repercussions and influence of the French Revolution is excellent.
    Finally, if you want to listen to it, buy some credits and get it at discount.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Seventh Degree Pacific Palisades, CA USA 12-03-13
    Seventh Degree Pacific Palisades, CA USA 12-03-13
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    "This revolution was not like the American one !"
    What made the experience of listening to Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon the most enjoyable?

    My daughter went to France to write a master's thesis on the French Revolution so I decided to learn about it. I have always been a student of our revolution. This is an expansive story of the details of the revolution and the rise of Napoleon; thank God we had the guidance of the British parliamentary system to form our own government. The French were lost, confused and seemed to have no guiding principles. They fought against the church as much as the monarchy. They tore themselves apart only to be united by an authoritarian conquerer in Napoleon. This is a lesson on how not to have a revolution !


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Swinson 09-15-13
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    "A story every American should know"
    What made the experience of listening to Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon the most enjoyable?

    It is a thorough treatment of a pivotal period of Western Civilization.


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

    The entry of Napoleon into Paris after leaving Egypt


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

    Napoleon


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

    At 24 hours it takes quite a few sessions.


    Any additional comments?

    Excellent historian presentation

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MissBouquet 03-16-16
    MissBouquet 03-16-16
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    "A People's Revision"
    What disappointed you about Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon?

    25 hours of revisionist history. This course is an apologia for the Reign of Terror, which was minimized, excused, and discussed only in brief generalities. Every event or opinion that wasn't pro-revolution, from historic to her research, Dr. Desan tries to delegitimatize with disparaging adjectives or caveats. For example, when 15 revolutionaries were killed, Dr. Desan describes it as a heinous crime committed by fanatics who wanted to impose another absolute monarch; when conducting her research, she met a medical doctor who wasn't pro-Revolution. He was described as an ultra-conservative who hated immigrants.

    I didn't expect the book to be objective, but I was hoping for a less politicized account and most of all, I was hoping to learn about the actual Revolution. Instead, I learned how slaves felt oppressed in Haiti (2 chapters) and how women handled divorce in a two year period (1 chapter), and also that Napoleon was a fool and a terrible general (6 chapters). From this Course, one wonders why we remember Napoleon at all. Dr. Desan is a testament to what's wrong with higher learning in America.


    Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses again?

    Yes, but only because of Audible's return policy.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator (Dr. Desan) used terms like "turds" and relied on modern tropes to describe history. She exercised the informal vocabulary of someone inebriated talking to friends. My spouse heard me listening and thought it was a student podcast. Dr. Desan's lexicon and informality were worse than her frequent stuttering.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Enough frustration to write my first review after 50+ audiobooks.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jiri 09-10-15
    Jiri 09-10-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "She knows the facts, but doesn't understand..."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I gave only 1 star not because the course is not worth of listening to, but because while the professor knows the facts, she interprets them wrongly. I think that historian who can't interpret the history correctly is a bad historian.

    She not only understands no economics (like 99% of all historians) so she can say absurd things like the abolition of price controls led to rising prices and then she adds that by the way the real cause of rising prices was monetary inflation. In her mind you can create plenty simply by legislating it. But she also doesn't understand any social theory, let alone libertarian social theory which is not so irrelevant here given that freedom is spoken of in about every second sentence.

    So, the course is good for learning the facts, but don't rely on it to give you a reliable explanation for why things happened the way they did. She simply takes things at face value. If someone spoke about liberty that is because he meant liberty (she never tries to define the word), if someone said the terror was necessary it is because it was necessary, and if someone instituted price controls in order to keep prices down it means that price controls must work in keeping prices down otherwise they wouldn't institute them right? And when price controls were lifted it was in order to help merchants. She doesn't even consider that price controls may be counterproductive and doesn't look for real causes of the misery which was the revolution itself. It doesn't come to her mind that mass killing, war, violation of property rights and enormous uncertainty may be a cause for economic crises. Of course, the ones who cause the crises always blame someone else. The government prints money, and then the prices go up. What the government does? Blames the merchants for rising prices. What the professor does? Blames the merchants and those who abolished price controls.

    So listen only if you expect to learn the facts from the course, not the explanation. Because again. She gets it completely wrong.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcheta 01-21-15
    Marcheta 01-21-15 Member Since 2007

    love audio books - Anglophile

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    "Whetted my appetite to learn more"

    Reading Dicken's "A Tale of Two Cities" in high school was my introduction to the French Revolution. I remember my teacher telling us that the 52 prisoners were symbolic of the 52 cards in a pack of playing cards. This series of lectures led me to Michelle Moran's book on Madame Tussaud, which is also available on audible. Moran's book ties in nicely. I also found a book on amazon, "The Lost King," about the final identification of Louis XVII, the dauphin, through recent DNA identification using his heart. So many intriguing mysteries. I wonder if anyone has identified all the secret passages and rooms in Versailles. Sadly, the Tuileries Palace was demolished in 1883. I'd love to visit Paris to visit the graves and remaining landmarks from this era.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason A. Hunt Ohio, USA 01-06-15
    Jason A. Hunt Ohio, USA 01-06-15

    Jason

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    "Lots to learn!"

    I did not know much about the French Revolution so I purchased this course. It is a lot! There is no way that I will remember all that was covered but I certainly know much more than I did previously. I am very pleased with this purchase.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ann Abbotsford, B.C., Canada 11-08-14
    ann Abbotsford, B.C., Canada 11-08-14 Listener Since 2002

    Ann.

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    "I WAS THRILLED AND INSPIRED BY THIS PRESENTATION!"

    What a wonderful explosion of knowledge this has been for me. Thank you Professor Desan. Your knowledge and compilation of events is brilliant. I just could not put it down, and completed listening to it in two days. You have whetted my appetite for more. Thank you, again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Perth, Australia 10-31-14
    Peter Perth, Australia 10-31-14 Member Since 2016
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    "Riveting"

    Well paced, highly intelligent, full of fascinating anecdotes - makes the time and period alive and vibrant. Enjoyed this enormously, as I had a very tenuous grasp on the revolution prior to this series. This is the revolution that makes all subsequent revolutions (including the Russian) comprehensible...the pattern was established first in France. War..poverty..famine..revolution...extreme idealism...turning to the dark side...puritanism...repression...terror...dictatorship. The lecturer know her materials and how to maintain interest - and she speaks French really well. Her vocal tones are not always as dramatic as some other lecturers - but you will find that you are so invested in the situation and the story that it is never a problem. Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reading Tyme 10-12-14

    readingtyme

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    "An effective overview of the French Revolution"

    I've been looking for an English language history of the French Revolution and I'm very happy to have found this course.

    What I wanted was an overview of what happened during the french revolution and the Napoleonic wars and this course was almost exactly what I was looking for.

    I might suggest that they split the topics into two courses, one for Napoleon and one for the revolution as even with something like 38 chapters it feels like we are missing some of the depth that would be helpful in understanding the subject matter.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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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
  • quene
    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • jock
    10/21/15
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    Performance
    Story
    "Very detailed"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    if they wanted to know about the frecnh revolution then yes


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

    na


    What about Professor Suzanne M. Desan’s performance did you like?

    clear and no mistakes


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    na


    Any additional comments?

    na

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • DrBlues
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    4/24/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Vive la France!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is a brilliant audiobook. Suzanne is passionate about the subject and it shines through. The book gives a surprising amount of detail about the run-up to the French Revolution before Napoleon's appearance. I liked the reference to literature, politics and fashion that goes beyond the detail I have read before on the topic.


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

    The first Chapter. The author is so passionate about the French Revolution that it is funny at first, until you get used to it. I enjoyed the character description/development of Robespierre and needless to say, the arrival of the big man, himself - Napoleon.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The assassination of Marat, Napoleon's rise to power, the life of Robespierre.


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

    If I could have, I would have.


    Any additional comments?

    The book gave a real insight into the importance of the French Revolution and its influence on the world today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • julien
    county wicklow, Ireland
    3/15/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "brilliant"

    the author is passionate and very knowledgeable about her subject, which makes her a great teacher.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    1/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Lectures given by Robespierre's mother"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The lecturer can't restrain her enthusiasm for France and all things French. A little more objectivity would be helpful. Liberty and freedom are not the gift of France to the world. Listening to this you might imagine that no other nation had ever thought of them.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The events themselves are remarkable and all the facts are there. When I got to the end I knew much more about French history than when I started. However she can't resist giving too much of her own opinion


    Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Suzanne M. Desan’s performances?

    Not if it was about France, she just is not objective enough.


    Was Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon worth the listening time?

    By and large yes.


    Any additional comments?

    The author makes too much of an effort to defend the indefensible and justify the unjustifiable. She tries too hard to bend the facts to suit her own ideological viewpoint. The French revolution was controversial then and divides opinion now. You would not know it from listening to this.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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