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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

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  •  
    Peter Swinson 09-15-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike 01-20-14
    Mike 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
  •  
    Seventh Degree Pacific Palisades, CA USA 12-03-13
    Seventh Degree Pacific Palisades, CA USA 12-03-13 Member Since 2011
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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 !


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    annhere Abbotsford, B.C., Canada 11-08-14
    annhere Abbotsford, B.C., Canada 11-08-14 Member 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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Perth, Australia 10-31-14
    Peter Perth, Australia 10-31-14 Member Since 2009
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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.

    0 of 0 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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Santa Clara, CA, United States 01-16-14
    Scott Santa Clara, CA, United States 01-16-14 Member Since 2011

    Enthusiastic, Skeptical, Warm-hearted, Concerned.

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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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Guinnessdog Minnetonka, MN 12-19-13
    Guinnessdog Minnetonka, MN 12-19-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Lots of Revolution, not so much Napoleon"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Overall, there is a lot of great information in this course - I learned a lot. However, I was somewhat disappointed that the focus was mostly on the 6-7 years or so surrounding the Revolution, then she sort of blasts through the Napoleonic era. That's fine if you're looking for a comprehensive understanding of the Revolution, but I was mostly interested in Napoleon going in to this. Military history this is not.

    Her treatment of the terror left me flat. She seems to be an apologist, giving lots of information about why and how the perpetrators did what they did, but I got no sense of how the people of France felt about it. It felt like, "this happened then that happened, then it was over and everybody was ready to move on."

    On the plus side, I was interested to learn about how France and the new United States viewed each other, and the huge consequences the Revolution had for the U.S.

    I found her speech pattern annoying but not horribly so. She's clearly reading and I'm a bit surprised some of her stumbles were not edited out. While I have no doubt she is very passionate about her subject matter, she's not easy to listen to.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Georgia Fairhaven, Australia 02-27-14
    Georgia Fairhaven, Australia 02-27-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent Lectures!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon to be better than the print version?

    This is a thrilling story and is beautifully told.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The Narrator. She is funny and insightful.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I can't choose.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. C. Moll Santa Cruz, CA 11-05-13
    D. C. Moll Santa Cruz, CA 11-05-13 Member Since 2011

    D.C. Moll, L.Ac.

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    "Disappointed"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Not a good reader for this topic, many inappropriate pauses, like she is reading this for the very first time. I can't finish this one, so sad.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Not a good match, I could fall asleep during the pauses.


    Any additional comments?

    Win some lose some, this was a loser for moi.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
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