About The Book
Few events in world history have been as mythologized or as misunderstood as the French Revolution. From monarchists to Marxists, historians have ceaselessly debated its causes and consequences for two centuries, and perhaps the only point on which all agree is that it played a critical role in shaping modern Europe.
Now a distinguished historian presents the definitive analysis of this extraordinarily complex national upheaval, which began in bourgeois protest against the injustices of the ancien régime, escalated into a struggle among power-hungry extremists whose weapons were the mob and the guillotine, and culminated in the imperial tyranny of Napoleon. George Rudé, author of some of the foremost works on the period, here distills his wide knowledge into a readable, approachable history for layman and scholar alike. Step by step, he explains exactly how and why the scope and violence of the Revolution grew, how it transformed France completely and forever, and how its effects remain a vital force today. Names, places, and events we have always known vaguely are put into clear, vivid context, from the stabbing of Marat in his bath to Napoleon’s triumphs and disasters. Political struggles in the Assembly and the Jacobin Club, and pitched battles in the alleys and boulevards of Paris, form dramatic climaxes in a fascinating story of men and motives.
Two hundred years after the fall of the Bastille, The French Revolution is a landmark study of this pivotal era and of its enduring impact on the world.
“Intelligent. . . . No summary of the French Revolution’s complexities is likely soon to surpass George Rudé’s judicious synthesis. . . . One of the most balanced overviews of the French Revolution available in English.” –Daniel L. Wick, San Francisco Chronicle
“A provocative examination. . . . A vivid chronicle of the event and its legacy. . . . Rudé pulls no punches.” –Sam Sifton, The Village Voice
“A marvelously concise volume . . . for anyone who wants an account of those events 200 years ago.” –Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Massachusetts)