The French Revolution has never seemed as revolutionary as in Colin Jones's magnificent new history of the period from the death of Louis XIV, the "Sun King," in 1715 to the advent of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799. During the middle decades of the eighteenth century France was positioned at the apex of the world's most powerful states, seemingly invulnerable to invasion, with an unparalleled intellectual and artistic life, and the wealth and population to dominate the world. By century's end, the Bourbon monarchs who had presided over this robust age were killed or in exile, and in their place reigned first Revolution, and then Napoleon.
Jones breaks new ground, revealing that the so-called "Old Regime," which held power up to 1789, was neither as old nor as doomed as historians have often claimed. In fact, the whole of Europe acknowledged the dynamism, social energy, and cultural prestige of France, whose Bourbon rulers continued to be restlessly experimental and militarily ferocious, even helping the fledgling American revolutionaries destroy arch-rival England's American empire in the last decade of its rule. The implosive events of 1789 become all the more remarkable in light of Jones's brilliant exposition of the vitality of the Bourbon reign, and of the complex of social forces, dynamic personalities, and unpredictable moments of chance that brought down a colossus.
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Colin Jones is professor of history at the University of Warwick. His books include The Longman Companion to the French Revolution, The Cambridge Illustrated History of France, The Medical World of Early Modern France (with Laurence Brockliss) and Madame de Pompadour: Images of a Mistress. He lives in the UK.From Publishers Weekly:
Historian Jones (The Cambridge Illustrated History of France) has written an exhaustive account of 18th-century France, emphasizing political and economic history. He paints a portrait of a nation opposed to Bourbon absolutism throughout the century, not just at the time of the Revolution. Beginning in the waning years of Louis XIV, philosophers, Jansenists, taxpayers and especially the Paris Parlement, which saw itself as the defender of fundamental law, all criticized the Bourbon regime, pointing to its unwise, revenue-draining wars; persecution of religious dissidents; and ruling in a manner unresponsive to the public will. As Jones convincingly points out, the French Enlightenment changed everything, bringing to the fore a concept of "popular opinion" that would lead the French to believe they had a voice in how their nation was governed. Increasingly after 1750, public opinion became a powerful antiabsolutist influence. Jones devotes an excellent chapter to the Encyclopedie, which he says symbolized a crucial change in French culture and politics. Jones also details the intricate politics of the century, explaining how the monarchs' principal ministers attempted to prop up Bourbon authority and revenues. On the Revolution, Jones is first-rate, especially in depicting the bloody factional feuding between the Jacobins and Girondins. He finishes his book with the Directory and the 1799 coup of Napoleon Bonaparte. This is an outstanding book for academics and students looking for a one-volume overview of the century, but perhaps too dense for the general readers other than those devoted to French history. Two maps.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Columbia University Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0231128827. Bookseller Inventory # L2-506
Book Description Columbia University Press, 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0231128827
Book Description Columbia University Press, 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0231128827
Book Description Columbia University Press, 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110231128827