Liberty or Death The French Revolution Peter McPhee

Format:
Paperback
Publication date:
04 Jul 2017
ISBN:
9780300228694
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
488 pages: 197 x 127mm
Illustrations:
40 color illus.

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A strikingly new account of the impact of the French Revolution in Paris, across the French countryside, and around the globe

The French Revolution has fascinated, perplexed, and inspired for more than two centuries. It was a seismic event that radically transformed France and launched shock waves across the world. In this provocative new history, Peter McPhee draws on a lifetime’s study of eighteenth-century France and Europe to create an entirely fresh account of the world’s first great modern revolution—its origins, drama, complexity, and significance.
 
Was the Revolution a major turning point in French—even world—history, or was it instead a protracted period of violent upheaval and warfare that wrecked millions of lives? McPhee evaluates the Revolution within a genuinely global context: Europe, the Atlantic region, and even farther. He acknowledges the key revolutionary events that unfolded in Paris, yet also uncovers the varying experiences of French citizens outside the gates of the city: the provincial men and women whose daily lives were altered—or not—by developments in the capital. Enhanced with evocative stories of those who struggled to cope in unpredictable times, McPhee’s deeply researched book investigates the changing personal, social, and cultural world of the eighteenth century. His startling conclusions redefine and illuminate both the experience and the legacy of France’s transformative age of revolution.

Peter McPhee serves as a professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne, and is an internationally esteemed historian of modern France. He lives in Abbotsford, Australia.

"Richly detailed . . . finds way to both revivify and dissect the revolutionary passions through not just Paris, but throughout France, it’s colonies and eventually the rest of the world."—Ruth Scurr, Financial Times


"McPhee . . . skillfully and with consummate clarity recounts one of the most complex events in modern history. . . . [This] extraordinary work is destined to be the standard account of the French Revolution for years to come."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)


"Articulate and perceptive. . . . Numerous histories of the French Revolution exist; while many are good, none is so current on the literature and lucidly presented as this. Scholars and history lovers will rejoice."—David Keymer, Library Journal (starred review)


"Any card-carrying historian must record with admiration Peter McPhee’s remarkable mastery of the literature, the debates, and the generations of interpretation about the French Revolution. . . . McPhee’s splendid book — historiographically astute, sensitive to moral as well as political and social positions, beautifully written — provides a guide through the complexities of the Revolution and reflects on its legacy."—Robert Aldrich, Australian Book Review


"Peter McPhee’s bold and scrupulously researched book poses a question not beforehand considered: just how French was the French Revolution?"—Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday


"This splendid and accessible synthesis, lavishly illustrated with some striking visual images, will surely become the standard text in English. . . . Succeeds in the daunting task of encompassing a host of issues in a comprehensible fashion."—Malcolm Crook, History


"Transforms our understanding of this epochal event, focusing squarely on the importance of developments in the provinces while offering a fluent and compelling narrative of the whole catastrophe."—Jonathan Wright, Catholic Herald


“The great merit of Peter McPhee’ new synthesis is the weight it gives to the earthy, even mundane, aspects of revolutionary experience. . .  McPhee offsets popular devotion to the revolution with evidence of apathy, frustration and profanity.”—Tom Stammers, LRB 


"Liberty or Death recounts the epic story of a people struggling to give birth to the modern concepts of popular sovereignty, human rights, religious toleration, equality before the law, the abolition of slavery, and the beginnings of gender equality. Rejecting the facile and antiquated view equating the French Revolution with blood and violence, McPhee reveals a nation tragically swept up in waves of fear and suspicion engendered by the revolutionary process itself and by the violence of the groups and foreign powers who sought to destroy all such transformations. It is a masterful synthesis by one of the world’s greatest specialists of the French Revolution."—Timothy Tackett, author of When the King Took Flight


"Peter McPhee is a superb historian, and in my view this is the finest full history of the French Revolution. McPhee carries memorable description and thoughtful analysis beyond France and Europe, presenting us with an intriguing, essential global dimension, including the Caribbean. It is a significant and absorbing book."—John Merriman, author of Massacre: The Life and Death of the Paris Commune