In the hands of Eric Hazan, author of The Invention of Paris, the revolution becomes a rational and pure struggle for emancipation. In this new history, the first significant account of the French Revolution in over twenty years, Hazan maintains that it fundamentally changed the Western world – for the better.
Looking at history from the bottom up, providing an account of working people and peasants, Hazan asks, how did they see their opportunities? What were they fighting for? What was the Terror and could it be justified? And how was the revolution stopped in its tracks? The People’s History of the French Revolution is a vivid retelling of events, bringing them to life with a multitude of voices. Only in this way, by understanding the desires and demands of the lower classes, can the revolutionary bloodshed and the implacable will of a man such as Robespierre be truly understood.
Peter McPhee gives special attention to Robespierre's formative years and the development of an iron will in a frail boy conceived outside wedlock and on the margins of polite provincial society. Exploring how these experiences formed the young lawyer who arrived in Versailles in 1789, the author discovers not the cold, obsessive Robespierre of legend, but a man of passion with close but platonic friendships with women. Soon immersed in revolutionary conflict, he suffered increasingly lengthy periods of nervous collapse correlating with moments of political crisis, yet Robespierre was tragically unable to step away from the crushing burdens of leadership. Did his ruthless, uncompromising exercise of power reflect a descent into madness in his final year of life? McPhee reevaluates the ideology and reality of "the Terror," what Robespierre intended, and whether it represented an abandonment or a reversal of his early liberalism and sense of justice.
This second edition of Historical Dictionary of the French Revolution covers its history through a chronology, an introductory essay, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 400 cross-referenced entries on the causes and origins; the roles of significant persons; crucial events and turning points; important institutions and organizations; and the economic, social, and intellectual factors involved in the event that gave birth to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about this period.
Philip Dwyer offers a detached, more nuanced analysis of the role of Talleyrand in the corridors of power over five different French regimes. He presents Talleyrand as a pragmatist, a member of the French political elite, mediating between various political interests and ideological tendencies to produce a working compromise, rather than actively seeking the overthrow of governments. His ability to weather the tectonic shifts in French and European politics of the time, and to successfully attach himself to the prevalent political trend, ensured that his role as French statesman was long and productive.