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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 – 8 Sep 2009

3.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (8 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300115474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300115475
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 4.3 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,037,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


`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

` 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

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think this is a really interesting book - over long, not well written, vastly over evidenced - but definitely interesting.

Pincus is concerned with taking on both Whiggish, conservative and revisionist historians interpretations of what 1688 was about and where it sits in the long view of English, British, European and world history. This he succeeds in doing for the most part.

Pincus argues that 1688 was not a coup, was not a foreign invasion, was not motivated by religion, was motivated by opposition to an absolutist vision of the state, and, so, was European in outlook, but that Tory and Whig visions of the alternative to absolutism would be played out over the coming decades and that 1688 set England and Britain on the road to being a modern capitalist, manufacturing society.

In most of these arguments, Pincus succeeds. There are places where he doesn’t succeed. I don’t think that he makes a case for a genuinely popular revolution, at least not one where lower classes develop political agendas independently of higher social classes. Pincus also suffers because he views James II’s absolutism and the opposing Williamite vision as both being ‘modern’ without addressing how absolutism really fitted into societies with emerging capitalism and was essentially conservative.

All the way through the book, the revolutionary events of 1640-60 assume ‘elephant in the room’ proportions and eventually, in his conclusion, Pincus addresses how England’s two revolutions relate to one another. Unfortunately, this analysis is quite superficial and Pincus is quite dismissive of the mid-century events but does concede that 1688 was not possible without 1640 to 1660.

There's lots to chew over and anyone interested in how changes in modes of production interact with changes in political/state structures will be interested in what Pincus has to say......even though he says it ever so stodgily.
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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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