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Contesting the French Revolution

ISBN: 978-1-4051-6084-1
248 pages
February 2009, Wiley-Blackwell
Contesting the French Revolution (1405160845) cover image
Contesting the French Revolution provides an insightful overview of one of history’s most significant events, as well as examining the most significant historiographical debates about this period.
  • Explores the causes, events, and consequences of the French Revolution
  • Offers a stimulating analysis of the most controversial debates: Were the events of 1789 a social revolution or a political accident? Did they mark the rise of industrial capitalism or the birth of modern democracy? Was Napoleon Bonaparte an heir to the ideals of 1789 or a betrayer of the Revolution?
  • Shows how historical interpretation of the French Revolution has been influenced by the changing political and social currents of the last 200 years – from the Russian Revolution to the fall of the Berlin Wall – and how historical study has shifted from a political focus to social and cultural approaches in more recent years.
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Acknowledgements.

Chronology.

Introduction.

1. Origins: Inevitable Revolution or Resolvable Crisis?

2. 1789.

3. The Declaration of Rights and the Abolition of Feudalism.

4. Constitutional Monarchy.

5. The Republic.

6. Regeneration and Terror.

7. Thermidor and the Directory.

8. Napoleon: Heir to the Revolution?

9. Revolutionary Violence.

10. Legacy of the Revolution.

Bibliography.

Index.

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Paul Hanson is Professor of History at Butler University in Indianapolis. He has taught courses on French history, European history, and Chinese history, and has published numerous books and articles examining the French Revolution, including The Jacobin Republic under Fire, Provincial Politics in the French Revolution and Historical Dictionary of the French Revolution.
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  • Provides an insightful overview of the causes, events, and consequences of the French Revolution
  • Offers a stimulating analysis of the most controversial debates: Were the events of 1789 a social revolution or a political accident? Did they mark the rise of industrial capitalism or the birth of modern democracy? Was Napoleon Bonaparte an heir to the ideals of 1789 or a betrayer of the Revolution?
  • Shows how historical interpretation of the French Revolution has been influenced by the changing political and social currents of the last 200 years – from the Russian Revolution to the fall of the Berlin Wall and how historical study has shifted from a political focus to social and cultural approaches in more recent years.
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"This book offers the best and most comprehensive narrative of the French Revolution published in decades. In a brief synthesis, Paul Hanson presents a riveting account and a fascinating exploration of the scholarly debates. Most impressive is Hanson's knowledge of all the fields of research and his achievement in bringing them together in a highly readable book." (European History Quarterly, 2011)

"The historiography of the French Revolution is notoriously voluminous. Paul Hanson is one of very few people who can be said to have mastered it.” (Informaworld.com, January 2011)

"Appropriately for a book centred on the notion of debate, Hanson includes an innovative interactive element: at the end of the Acknowledgements he provides an email address to which readers are invited to send ‘comments, suggestions, and criticisms' (p. ix). I, for one, intend to take up the invitation in order to congratulate him on a job well done." (French Studies, December 2010)

"Recommended [for] Graduate students [and] faculty." (CHOICE, February 2010) Designed as an introduction both to the Revolution and to the historical controversies that surround it, Contesting the French Revolution is an assured, erudite survey of recent scholarship by an accomplished historian of the Revolution. (H-France, April 2010)

"Contesting the French Revolution provides an invaluable account of recent thinking on the history and politics of the French Revolution. Hanson does not 'take sides', but by explaining what underlies the debates, and why historians have found the politics of the Revolution so important and yet so contentious, he makes it possible for students to make up their own minds. This is the best kind of teaching. Above all, he shows why the French Revolution still matters. The written style is beautifully expressed, elegant and lucid."
Marisa Linton, Kingston University

"Paul Hanson breathes new life into the events and ideas of the French Revolution and makes clear their relevance to topics of contemporary concern. His balanced and sensitive approach to issues such as state-sponsored and popular violence, as well as what he terms 'routine violence', will be appreciated by both scholars and students alike. Hanson's engaging and accessible writing makes the book ideal for use in the classroom."
Denise Davidson, Georgia State University

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