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1688: The First Modern Revolution (Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture & History) (The Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-century Culture & History) [Hardcover]

Steve Pincus
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Sep 2009 The Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-century Culture & History
For two hundred years historians have viewed England's Glorious Revolution of 1688-1689 as an un-revolutionary revolution - bloodless, consensual, aristocratic, and above all, sensible. In this brilliant new interpretation Steve Pincus refutes this traditional view. By expanding the interpretive lens to include a broader geographical and chronological frame, Pincus demonstrates that England's revolution was a European event, that it took place over a number of years, not months, and that it had repercussions in India, North America, the West Indies, and throughout continental Europe. His rich historical narrative, based on masses of new archival research, traces the transformation of English foreign policy, religious culture, and political economy that, he argues, was the intended consequence of the revolutionaries of 1688-1689. James II developed a modernization programme that emphasized centralized control, repression of dissidents, and territorial empire. The revolutionaries, by contrast, took advantage of the new economic possibilities to create a bureaucratic but participatory state. The post-revolutionary English state emphasized its ideological break with the past and envisioned itself as continuing to evolve. All of this, argues Pincus, makes the Glorious Revolution - not the French Revolution - the first truly modern revolution. This wide-ranging book reenvisions the nature of the Glorious Revolution and of revolutions in general, the causes and consequences of commercialization, the nature of liberalism, and ultimately the origins and contours of modernity itself.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (8 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300115474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300115475
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 18.1 x 26.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 586,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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`Steve Pincus's book [is] a work of spectacular ambition and astonishingly wide learning ... dense yet lucid and vigorous.' --Blair Worden, Literary Review, October 2009

`Mr Pincus explodes in succession each of the myths about the Glorious Revolution ... [a] cogently argued account.' --Economist, 17th October 2009

'...compelling and forcefully argued... It is a book that will prompt intense historical debate for many years to come.' --Ted Vallance, New Statesman, 26th October 2009

`In 1688 ... [Pincus] has written a swashbuckling book ... As fearless iconoclasm, 1688 can hardly be bettered.'
--David Scott, Standpoint, 1st November 2009

`An engaging read...this book will unquestionably become a major talking-point among all interested in Britain's last revolution.'
--Ted Vallance, BBC History Magazine, 1st December 2009

`Pincus's marvellously learned book is the product of years of industrious archival labour.'
--Jonathan Clark, Times Literary Supplement, 15th January 2010

`...one of the most ambitious works of history to appear in recent years... The book is a marvel of scholarship.'
--Matthew Price, The National, 25th December 2009

`A book that will be difficult for any student of the 17th century or of the revolutions to ignore.' --Mark Knights, Reviews in History, April 2010

`No historian of the Glorious Revolution - or the regime it established - will be able to overlook this remarkable work.'
--William Gibson, Archives, April 2010

About the Author

Steven Pincus is professor of history at Yale University. He is the author of 'The Politics of the Public Sphere in Early Modern England', 'Protestantism and Patriotism: Ideologies and the Making of English Foreign Policy, 1650-1668', and 'England's Glorious Revolution: A Brief History with Documents'.

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Customer Reviews

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Mark Pack TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The traditional picture of 1688 is of a rather English revolution - one much politer, less violent, more limited and rather more sensible and rational than the bloody versions of revolution seen in other countries. In this work Steve Pincus sets out to challenge that view.

In his view the Glorious Revolution was not simply a quick and painless transfer of power at the top of the state but a wide reaching and fundamental alteration to the state, politics, society and culture - all deliberately planned by opponents of James II. They were not seeking simply to oppose him but also to offer the country a different route to modernisation. The Glorious Revolution was not, as in the traditional version, a defence of the English way of life against an errant monarch who had blundered for a few years but, in Pincus's eyes, the creation of a new way of life. This view, he argues, returns historical interpretation to a position much closer to that held by many in the eighteenth century.

Rather than James II's approach of centralisation, intolerance of dissidents and territorial empire, his opponents created a participatory state set on a course of continuous evolution. Instead of James II taking the country down a path towards a country in the style of Louis XIV, the revolutionaries looked to Holland for a radically different alternative vision of the future.

Holland too was a country where the military was at the centre of the government's efforts, with a centralised state at home and military intervention abroad. However, it was also a state valued political participation rather than an absolute monarch, tolerated different religions and encouraged manufacturing rather than focusing on protecting a landed empire.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book for enthusiasts 3 Aug 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very well written and holds your attention from start to finish. His research opens up a new insight into the social history of the period. His argument that the revolution was not just a political or religious one but supported by a wide spectrum of society is convincing and the evidence is overwhelming. However amateur historians should be warned that the author assumes that the reader has a good background knowledge of the actual events that preceded and caused the flight of James II as he will not find the details here.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History at its best 29 Nov 2009
A very clearly written book, that not only revolutionises our understanding of this revolution, but also, unusually for a professional historian, engages with new institutional economics and the social sciences -- to show that 1688 has been mis-used to justify dubiously simplistic 'Whig' propositions about the significance of political revolution on economic growth.
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