In a hurry? Listen to more Very Short Introductions.
©2001 Oxford University Press; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
My European history is lousy. I doubt I will every have a really good handle on European history, but short books like The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction help.
This good addition to the Very Short Introduction series. The book is just over 100 pages of real material. There are six chapters: Echoes; Why It Happened; How It Happened; What It Ended; What It Started; and Where It Stands.
In a short introduction like this, there is not room for a detailed look at the events of the revolution. A broad overview, along with cultural and historical implication is the main focus.
I had a couple of thoughts when reading. First, economics are almost always important to revolutions. But not necessarily directly. The French revolution occurred after some tax cuts and the average person was a bit better off. However overspending on the military and empire still distorted the fundamental economics.
Both the aristocracy and the church share some blame for the revolution. In both cases there were signs that their power and finances were unsustainable in the long term. Instead of voluntarily giving up power, finances and authority for the good of the country as a whole, they were ultimately reduced to a fraction of their previous state. I always think the church should understand giving up power and finances to gain cultural voice and authority. But that seems to be a hard lesson to learn, even when it is part of our faith.
I also did not realize the extent that the church was repressed in France. It went badly for everyone and in many ways it is odd to me that the Soviet Union and later China (and others) did not learn the lesson about the repression of the church and faith from the earlier French revolution.
Overall I thought this was one of better Very Short Introduction series. Its weakness is that it spends too little time on the actual events, but the analysis (where it spent most of its time) was well done.
Well written and well narrated. Concise, thoughtful treatment of a very complex topic that occurred more than 200 years ago but remains broadly relevant to our understanding of today's world.
This is a fine book by an accomplished historian. But the French Revolution is perhaps the most controversial subject in history. It is in some sense the quintessential historical event, the one that necessitated the emergence of modern history writing itself. So, how is it possible that audible has only a handful of titles on the subject, and none of the classics on the subject except for Thomas Carlyle's highly idiosyncratic work? Where is Michelet? Tocqueville? Blanc? Taine? Sorel? Jaures? Cobban? Rude? Soboul? Lefebvre? Or what about some of the many recent popular histories of the Revolution and the revolutionaries, such as Scurr's Robespierre or Lawday's Danton? With 100 times as many works on the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers one wonders if there isn't conspiracy afoot directed against the French people!
One might as well as note as well that the English Civil Wars & the Glorious Revolution are even more poorly served. Finally and unbelievably, the revolution of 1848, 1905, and 1917 are subjects about which one can at present learn nothing from the audible catalog. Surely, audible's only audience isn't americans and, more importantly, surely americans interested in history are interested in the subject as such. And it's impossible to understand the American Revolution outside the wider European revolutionary arc that culminates in the Great French Revolution and its aftermath. Get it together audible! But thanks for this one.
This text lacked the details that characterize a good historical recounting of the French Revolution. A description of the base life of the peasant class as well as the Jacobins, Robespierre, and the chaos of the uprising are not brought to life in this narration. I would not recommend this title.
Perhaps but on a different topic than the French Revolution.
The narrator did a passable job of presenting the material
Well written and presented. The unavoidable problem with an audio version, however, is the lack of a bibliography, which would be essential if this were to fully meet its purpose as an introduction to the topic.
Report Inappropriate Content