Revolutionary Ideas: An Intellectual History of the French Revolution from The Rights of Man to Robespierre

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9780691151724: Revolutionary Ideas: An Intellectual History of the French Revolution from The Rights of Man to Robespierre
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Historians of the French Revolution used to take for granted what was also obvious to its contemporary observers―that the Revolution was shaped by the radical ideas of the Enlightenment. Yet in recent decades, scholars have argued that the Revolution was brought about by social forces, politics, economics, or culture―almost anything but abstract notions like liberty or equality. In Revolutionary Ideas, one of the world's leading historians of the Enlightenment restores the Revolution’s intellectual history to its rightful central role. Drawing widely on primary sources, Jonathan Israel shows how the Revolution was set in motion by radical eighteenth-century doctrines, how these ideas divided revolutionary leaders into vehemently opposed ideological blocs, and how these clashes drove the turning points of the Revolution.

In this compelling account, the French Revolution stands once again as a culmination of the emancipatory and democratic ideals of the Enlightenment. That it ended in the Terror represented a betrayal of those ideas―not their fulfillment.

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"Combining erudition and verve, Revolutionary Ideas is an exciting, bold, valuable, and courageous book that should have a wide readership. A veritable tour de force, it fundamentally reconceptualizes the French Revolution. Arguing that ideas caused the revolution, propelled it forward, and constituted its essence, Jonathan Israel provides a wealth of detail about the little-known but fascinating characters who made up the radical wing of the revolutionary leadership."--Helena Rosenblatt, the Graduate Center, City University of New York

"There is nothing else quite like this book. It not only crowns one of the major individual history projects of the past century but also serves as a stimulus to fresh debate on the greatest and most fundamentally important of all revolutions."--William Doyle, author of The Oxford History of the French Revolution

About the Author:

Jonathan Israel is professor of modern history at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is the author of A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy (Princeton).

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9780691169712: Revolutionary Ideas: An Intellectual History of the French Revolution from The Rights of Man to Robespierre

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ISBN 10:  0691169713 ISBN 13:  9780691169712
Publisher: Princeton University Press, 2015
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