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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine introduction to the subject
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.
Published on 15 Feb 2001

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could do better Kindle
This is a very readable account but I feel Amazon have done the author a great disservice with this Kindle edition. The number of typing errors are appalling and detract from the reading experience. In the age of spellchecker and digital books is it to much to expect a transcription that is error free. Many of the errors appear to involve"th" which is typed a a "di" I...
Published on 22 Oct 2010 by J. Chambers


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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine introduction to the subject, 15 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The French Revolution (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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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to start, hard to put down, 13 Jun 2010
This review is from: The French Revolution (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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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great narrative, easy read, 11 Jan 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The French Revolution (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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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very useful synthesis & introduction, 31 Dec 2009
By 
nieges d'autan "villon" (Oxford UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The French Revolution (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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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real eye-opener to a romanticised period, 13 Jan 2006
By 
Caterkiller (Darlington, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The French Revolution (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read, 20 May 2012
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This review is from: The French Revolution (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars The French Revolution, 9 Aug 2010
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This review is from: The French Revolution (Paperback)
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to the topic, 12 July 2011
By 
D. J. Andrews "David Andrews" (Keele, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The French Revolution (Paperback)
As a history student who is starting reading for a year long study in to the French Revolution I would reccomend this as a starting point along with The French Revolution: Introductory Documents. It breaks down the important events of the revolution without much of the authors own interpretation.

Frankly, for a book that has praise from Jack Plumb on the cover one wouldn't expect anything else. If you are a student as I am starting from scratch then after this I would reccomend The Debate on the French Revolution (Issues in Historiography) (Issues in Historiography) as the next one on your reading list and then browsing your way through the indexes of general history books in your library as I have found there are some quite good data in them.

As another reviewer said, as much as Simon Schama is, in my opinion, the best history writer that we have I wouldn't start with 'Citizens' (there are, however a couple very good chapters on the revolution in 'Patriots and Liberators')
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could do better Kindle, 22 Oct 2010
By 
J. Chambers (North Kent) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a very readable account but I feel Amazon have done the author a great disservice with this Kindle edition. The number of typing errors are appalling and detract from the reading experience. In the age of spellchecker and digital books is it to much to expect a transcription that is error free. Many of the errors appear to involve"th" which is typed a a "di" I am sure the hardcopy would not be released by the publishers like this, so why is the kindle edition
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Narrative History at its Best, 8 Jun 2011
By 
D. Evans - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The French Revolution (Paperback)
The French Revolution has been called the greatest event in European history since the fall of the Roman Empire, an epic world shaking event that helped shape the modern world... but it's also a period of history that I knew very little about. Reading this book helped change that. That's no small feat as the French Revolution is a confusing and murky era, one with many strangely named factions squabbling amongst each other, and certain regimes, such as that of the Jacobin Committee of Public Safety, coming to power for a year only to be ousted by another faction, in what seems like an endless series of violence and blood letting.

The late Christopher Hibbert manages an impressive feat of distilling these events and personalities and creating a great, readable narrative history from it. Hibbert's prose is lively and lucid, and it really does help illuminate the figures from the period, such as the misunderstood Marie Antoinette (who never said "Let them eat cake"), the concerned would be assassin Charlotte Corday, the larger than life Georges Danton, the rabble rousing Jean-Paul Marat and of course, the 'bloody dictator' Robespierre. Hibbert's skill is bring these long dead and dusty figures back to life, and to humanise them - so that their struggles don't really read like a tedious list of events from times past, but as real moments lived through by flesh and blood people, not by simple names and dates in a book.

His descriptions are evocative and fascinating, and cover such small trivial details of King Louis XVI's eating habits and hobbies at the court of Versailles, to the 'big events' such as the round the clock guillotining and sham trials during the Reign of Terror. The book also covers a wide section from French society, so we have accounts from the aristocrats, but we also get descriptions of life on the lower levels of society too - which tend to be far more interesting.

The book has been criticised by others for being to Anglo-centric in its views, or for being to sympathetic towards monarchists and aristocrats, or for dwelling on the barbarity of the Terror and less on the long term achievements of the Revolution. It also doesn't go into to much analysis of the events themselves, but being a narrative history I didn't find this a problem. I believe that too much analysis would have broken up the prose and made it a much more dull book to read.

Despite these flaws this a great book , well worth reading for anyone with an interest in this period of history. I suppose its a testament to the now sadly deceased author that his book has inspired me to want to read up more on this fascinating era of history.
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The French Revolution by Christopher Hibbert (Paperback - 28 Jan 1982)
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