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The French Revolution Paperback – 28 Jan 1982


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (28 Jan. 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140049452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140049459
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Christopher Hibbert wrote more than fifty acclaimed books, including The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici and Rome: The Biography of a City. A leading popular historian whose works reflect meticulous scholarship, he was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He died in December 2008.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 67 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback
Well written and easy to read, Hibbert's account of the French revolution is an ideal starting point for those unfamiliar with the period. He makes understanding the shifting political groupings easy and his portraits of the protagonists breathe life into the whole. The description of the rising tide of mob violence is particularly effective.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Basileus on 13 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
"The French Revolution" by Christopher Hibbert tells the story of the "Mother of all Revolutions" and is a good introduction into one of the most famous historical events. It focuses on the crucial moments (the storming of the Bastille, the execution of the king and queen, the Great Terror and the rise of a young Napoleon Bonaparte) as well as the main players (Louis XVI, Mirabeau, Danton, Marat, Robespierre and Napoleon).

Hibbert provides a clear overview of a chaotic period, combining detailed descriptions of the events and personal stories together with underlying economic and political developments. "The French Revolution" is packed with information, anecdotes and character profiles, making it a joy to read. The appendix is also worth a look; providing essential background information to the story, explaining French terminology as well as the fate of secondary characters.

The picture that emerges is one that is not altogether different from numerous other revolutions seen since. It could be considered almost a blueprint for future revolutions: those that have against who have-not, one elite replacing another, sinister characters coming to the fore, the power struggles, the radicalization of politics, purges, showcase trials, mass executions of "enemies of the state" and all ultimately ending in military dictatorship. It all sounds too familiar for comfort. I understand better now why the first official political party in my country was named the Anti-Revolutionary Party.

What stands out in "the French Revolution" is the level of violence. The writer's description of the bloodlust of the mob and leaders alike is terrifying, the humiliation and cruelty shown towards opponents is truly shocking and the lack of compassion and mercy is chilling. Reading this book made me shiver more than once and will haunt me long after I put it down. Highly recommended.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
This entertaining work concisely untangles the confusing succession of events, actors and institutions between 1789 and 1799. At the vivid depiction of the “journées” and the public serial guillotining, I could imagine myself being part of the haranguing crowd. A disturbing feeling.
However, I was disappointed that the book does not explore the ideas that catalysed this quest for new forms of government and social order.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Caterkiller on 13 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is a fascinating account of the real forces driving the French Revolution: not huddled masses rising up against a despot but a mixture of lawyers and merchants on the make who were eventually consumed by the monster that they created. The level of violence throughout is unbelievable, mobs, looters, and gangs of self-styled "assassins" roamed free summarily lynching anyone considered an enemy of whichever faction held sway in the government. It is shocking that the Revolution,given the tens of thousands of innocent victims that it claimed is still celebrated today; it is like the Russians celebrating the Gulags,or the British celebrating the anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Each key revolutionary leader, Robespierre, Marat, Danton, are given a brief biography before we learn of their inevitable demise, as infighting, graft, and factionalism destroy the Revolution's goals. An excellent read and a great introduction to the subject.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By nieges d'autan VINE VOICE on 31 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
This relatively short book is a very useful summary and introduction for anyone who has some awareness of the French Revolution, but needs a context and narrative. Like all Hibbert's books, it is written for the intelligent layman, and without a critical'standpoint', which makes it a very useful place to start (maybe before tackling work such as Schama). I lent this to my (frenchborn) French teacher, and wants a copy to lend to other anglophone French people, as it is so clear and succinct. I should say as well that it is enthralling, I found it very hard to put it down and turn off the light!

Especially interesting is the appendix which sets out the fate (usually frightful) of virtually all the minor characters, if not mentioned already in the text.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tara S on 20 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a first stop for those who just want to get a good idea of what caused the French Revolution, how it panned out and who the main players were then this is a great book to start with before going in depth with other more academic texts such as Simon Schama's Citizens (which is quite heavy-going for a novice on the subject). Hibbert is a historical author for the curious masses and I recommend his works thoroughly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By peterb on 9 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Christopher Hibbert's book The French Revolution provides a readable account of an important and complex period in European history.
Characters are finely drawn, and Hibber's account of the accellerating changes in social events and political fortunes; the contrasts between the lives of the peasant and aristocratic classes; and of the events leading to The Terror holds the reader's attention throughout. A series of Appendices provide useful additional background information.
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