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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-rounded and thorough account of the French Revolution
I hate to admit that before reading The Oxford History of the French Revolution I was in complete darkness regarding one of the most significant social and political events of modern European history. Thus, every page was a revelation to me and I was completely captivated by the account of the events as presented in the book. It was really hard to put it down even as my...
Published on 24 Oct. 2011 by AndreasP

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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive but overly so
Comprehensive discussion on the revolution with a very practical application. I had hoped for more of a political/philosophical discussion on the topic and was slightly disappointed in this. That said, that book is encyclopaedic in its discussion and covers virtually everything that you might want to know about the practical events of the revolution. As a reference...
Published on 7 April 2007 by Killian


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-rounded and thorough account of the French Revolution, 24 Oct. 2011
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I hate to admit that before reading The Oxford History of the French Revolution I was in complete darkness regarding one of the most significant social and political events of modern European history. Thus, every page was a revelation to me and I was completely captivated by the account of the events as presented in the book. It was really hard to put it down even as my eyelids became increasingly heavy in the morning hours. I cannot judge the book in terms of accuracy of historical facts or completeness. I often had to revert to Wikipedia in order to find out more about some person or fact that I wanted to know more about. However I doubt that one can provide a more detailed and well-rounded account of the French revolution in just 460 pages. The book touches on several aspects of the revolution including economics, warfare, international affairs, religion, politics etc. There is also a comprehensive bibliography for those who want to delve deeper into the matters. I believe that I chose one of the best books to introduce myself to this historical event which I enjoyed thoroughly and have absolutely no regrets or complaints.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Reference on the French revolution, 22 May 2015
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William Doyle’s History of the French Revolution it the best in the genre because it is the most honest and is well written, comprehensive, and informed by up-to-date research. On a subject that, two hundred years later and counting, remains surprisingly controversial – or perhaps not surprisingly, as it has to do with the nature of France itself – no one matches Doyle’s precise, noncommittal voice. The book, moreover, stretches from the last decade of the ancien régime and into the consulate, providing valuable context to the central revolutionary phase of 1789-99. While it is detailed enough to do justice to the rich and varied sequence of events and cast of significant characters, it indulges in no jargon and is easy to follow. It is far superior, finally, to crowd-pleasers such as Schama and to the semi-hagiographies produced by many French historians. For students and for the general reader alike, this is the book to read.

As additional background, whether for students or for the general reader interested in the twists and turns of the historiography on the topic, I recommend François Furet’s Interpreting the French Revolution (1981) and TCW Blanning’s The Rise and Fall of the French Revolution (1996).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good overview, 3 Jan. 2013
This is one of my set texts for my history degree, and despite never having studied the French Revolution before, I have found it surprisingly easy to follow. Doyle is one of the most prominent historians of the subject, and his book includes almost all the main themes within context - it provides a very good and interesting starting point. Some people I know have found reading it slightly hard going at times however.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding achievement to condense so much so well, 26 Jan. 2008
As a complete novice with curiosity to feed I started Doyle's 'Oxford History of the French Revolution' together with Asprey's (2 vol) 'Rise & Fall of Napoleon Bonaparte' and Schama's 'Citizens', all together. Doyle's work is a perfect guide to illuminate this labyrinth - he engages very well and very early. For me this is a page-turner, consuming all available time and only with discipline can I put it down to cover the same ground from Asprey's perspective. This latter also a tremendously good read, a little lighter but the first half of the first volume makes a very good companion work. All that is left of Schama is a dent in the wall finally wrung out of my patience at page 83. I seem to be in a minority here, so I will simply record personal exasperation with Schama's style without seeking argument.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive but overly so, 7 April 2007
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Killian (the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
Comprehensive discussion on the revolution with a very practical application. I had hoped for more of a political/philosophical discussion on the topic and was slightly disappointed in this. That said, that book is encyclopaedic in its discussion and covers virtually everything that you might want to know about the practical events of the revolution. As a reference therefore - for anyone reading/writing on the topic - it is thoroughly indispensable... but for the rest of us and as a bedtime read the book is slightly tiresome, overly detailed and slow moving.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars history as it should be written, 19 Jan. 2010
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If you are interested in the French revolution, this is the book to read. I have been reading around this subject since childhood, Baroness Orczy, Tale of Two Cities and more recently Hilary Mantel, but never studied it. This book filled that gap perfectly.
It is lucid, engaging, in plain English and referenced for the academics.
Can't recommend too highly.
CH
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, 17 April 2012
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I wanted to get a better picture of what hapened during the revolution and this book certainly did the job .
It was easy to read, quite detailed and it set the scene as to the key matters that gave rise to the revolution from Louis XV1 taking the throne to the point at which Napoleon gained control of the country. It gave a real sense of the many many twists and turns in the political landscape and the uncertainty and brutality that the population and the key protagonists experienced over the period. In addition it gave a good view of the international context and the reactions of those countries that had an interest is the situation. A really good book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting bedtime reading, 2 Oct. 2010
Having suffered appalling teachers of history, I hadn't read a history book for forty years. Also, I had never understood the French Revolution, that complicated concatenation of events. I found Doyle's book fascinating and stimulating. I found it gripping not only in the comprehensive detail the reviewer praises, but also in the lucidity with which theories and philosophical questions are expounded. I am much better informed, my thoughts have been stimulated, and I have lost my anti-history-book prejudice. I have now bought and read several other Doyle history books. I cannot recommend this writer enough.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough to a fault, dedicated and balanced., 21 Sept. 2009
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I came to this with a reasonable general knowledge of Ancient and British history, but my understanding of European history consisted mostly of hazy memories from school.

I had perhaps avoided studying the French Revolution because of the complexity of the period and perhaps also its ferocity.

To prepare myself I had read Doyle's 'Very Short' history and his book on the origins of the revolution, both of which I liked because of a measured analysis seemingly founded on reflective and detailed research. This book shares those virtues and seems to leave no stone unturned in recording every shift of thought and policy from 1789 until the advent of Napoleon's dictatorship.

At times this makes the book quite slow to read. Doyle's style is conversational, and in following the argument of Jacobins, Girondins, Feuillants, Chouans, Protestants, Royalists, emigres etc etc through a decade where seemingly no-one had time to draw breath it is easy to lose the thread.

However Doyle is in it for the long haul and his analysis is thoughtful, but never heavy in tone and leavened with irony. The enthusiasm which gobbled up the ancien regime and spat it out, and the tremendous importance this had for the whole of Europe over subsequent decades is acknowledged. So is the bloodshed and chaos which resulted from throwing out many beneficent aspects of the roles played by the aristocracy and church.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 28 Jun. 2015
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A surprisingly exciting read, even if the "plot" is sometimes difficult to follow!
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