Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots, and Revolutionaries, 1776-1871

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9780670892716: Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots, and Revolutionaries, 1776-1871

A grand history of the age of revolution from a renowned historian -- "a stimulating and finely written book" (Antony Beevor, author of Stalingrad)

Hailed as a "a dashing account of the romantic movement and bold narrative history at its best"(Michael Ignatieff, The Observer), Holy Madness is a sweeping, graceful portrait of one extraordinary century that changed the face of the world. From the first shots of the American Revolution in 1776 to the last agony of the Paris Commune in 1871, Adam Zamoyski elegantly captures the romantics and revolutionaries who were willing to die for the cause of an idealized nation and who transformed the society of Europe and its colonies.

Holy Madness provides not only a fluid history of the tumultuous years that embraced the American and French revolutions, the Irish Rebellion, the Polish uprisings, the liberation of South America, and the Italian Risorgimento, it also probes the spiritual and emotional forces responsible for the founding events of the modern world. Zamoyski also captures the passionate revolutionary figures Lafayette, Napoleon, Benjamin Franklin, Bolivar, Rousseau, and countless others who were caught up in the fervor of the nationalist crusade. As the cult of the nation rises again around the world, Holy Madness is a magnificent and riveting history that takes on chilling relevance in today's society.

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Review:

In Holy Madness, Adam Zamoyski has written a history of revolutions, and of the romantic and sometimes ridiculous revolutionaries who inspired them. But because revolution was so ubiquitous an activity in the 19th century, what he has actually produced is a comprehensive account of Western civilization from 1776 to 1871. Inspired by the American Revolution (1776) and the French Revolution (1789), the whole of Europe, and large portions of the rest of the world, was regularly convulsed by the urge to fashion Utopia on Earth. Zamoyski manages to flesh out these events with well-chosen detail and a fine sense of the touching comic-heroics they often entailed, as well as the bloodletting and the horror. As a historian of Poland, Zamoyski untangles the many uprisings in Eastern Europe with particular aplomb, but his account of France is also adept, with a vivid portrayal of the idealism of the Paris Commune, overthrown in 1871.

Holy Madness advances a particular argument: that the century of revolutionary upheaval was the direct result of the waning of religion as a universal human-value system. Post-Enlightenment men and women turned to the ecstasies of patriotism and revolution to fill the void left by belief in God, hoping to construct a paradise on Earth rather than wait for one in heaven. According to this thesis, revolution was a new theology: "The theology may have been shaky, but the new religion did have a god. That god was the sovereign nation, whose service was the highest calling, as countless revolutionary catechisms pointed out." It's an ingenious line, worked through thoroughly, although it doesn't explain everything--for instance, why Britain was almost entirely free of revolutionary upset during the same period. But this is thought-provoking and well-made historical writing. --Adam Roberts, Amazon.co.uk

About the Author:

Adam Zamoyski was born in New York, was educated at Oxford, and lives in London. His other books include biographies of Chopin and Paderewski and a history of Poland.

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Book Description Viking, 2000. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: The dramatic journey of "Holy Madness" begins in America in 1776 and travels through the last agony of the Paris Commune in 1871, documenting in one continuous narrative an extraordinary century that changed the face of the world. Romantics and revolutionaries, fired by the political visions of the Englightenment, transformed the society of Europe and its colonies in a widespread desire to create ideal communities: witness the American Revolution, the Irish rebellion, uprisings in Hungary, Russia, and Poland; the war of Greek liberation, the liberation of South America, and the Italian Risorgimento. On this vast canvas, Zamoyski elegantly captures the passionate partisans Lafayette, Garibaldi, Mazzini, Napoleon, Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Coleridge, Byron, Rousseau, Bolivar, and countless others willing to die in a kind of crusade whose Jerusalem was an idealized nation. As the cult of the nation rises again around the world, this magnificent, and stimulating consideration of the causes and consequences of nationalism takes on a chilling relevance. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0670892718

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